Bourdain, who was born in New York and grew up in the suburbs of New Jersey, graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1978. After working in several kitchens, he gained recognition for “Kitchen Confidential,” which described in vivid detail the dark and drug-fueled world that dwelled within the industry and among those working in the trenches.
“You might get the impression from the specifics of my less than stellar career that all line cooks are wacked-out moral degenerates, dope fiends, refugees, a thuggish assortment of drunks, sneak thieves, sluts and psychopaths,” he wrote. “You wouldn’t be too far off base.”
His best-selling book grew out of a New Yorker article, “Don’t Eat Before Reading This,” in which Bourdain spilled his own trade secrets after working his way up from humble dishwasher to celebrated chef in New York.
Bourdain was open about his past as a former heroin addict, and he seemed to revel in his reputation that stripped away a more wholesome image of master chefs in pristine white. The Smithsonian called him “the original rock star, the Elvis of bad boy chefs.”
In various interviews, Bourdain spoke about how he was given several chances in life while addicted to drugs in the 1980s and lost friends to overdoses and drug abuse.
He began to turn his life around when he realized his talents were in the kitchen, although he said he spent years worrying about being in debt and having no health insurance. He also drank, something he still enjoyed and acknowledged as he traveled and partied in exotic destinations for his TV shows.
“I became successful in my 40s. I became a dad in my 50s. I feel like I’ve stolen a car — a really nice car — and I keep looking in the rearview mirror for flashing lights,” he told Biography in 2016. “But there’s been nothing yet.”
Bourdain’s death follows that of another celebrity, fashion designer Kate Spade, who was found dead of suicide this week at age 55. They both hanged themselves.
Federal health officials reported Thursday that suicide rates are up by 30 percent across the nation since 1999, and only about half the people who died by suicide had a known mental health condition.
President Donald Trump said Friday that his “heartfelt condolences” were with Bourdain’s family.