Devastated girlfriend Asia Argento says Anthony Bourdain was 'my love, my rock', as friends and fans pay tribute

Bourdain and Argento in a photo posted to the actress' Instagram account in April 2018.
Bourdain and Argento in a photo posted to the actress' Instagram account in April 2018.PHOTO: INSTAGRAM

NEW YORK (NYTIMES) - Anthony Bourdain's death by suicide on Friday (June 8) prompted an outpouring of grief, with fellow celebrities, friends, foodies and fans paying tribute to a man who charmed many with his unvarnished, compassionate commentary on food and life.

In a statement posted to Twitter, Italian actress Asia Argento, Bourdain's girlfriend, said she was "beyond devastated" by his death.

"His brilliant, fearless spirit touched and inspired so many, and his generosity knew no bounds. He was my love, my rock, my protector," she wrote.

Bourdain had been dating Argento since 2017. He leaves behind a teenage daughter Ariane, from his relationship with his ex-wife Ottavia Busia.

The appreciations of Bourdain's writing and television shows came from all corners, including from former US president Barack Obama, who shared a meal with Bourdain in Vietnam in 2016, and at least one retired astronaut who recalled enjoying Bourdain's work from the farthest perch.

Obama wrote on Twitter: "'Low plastic stool, cheap but delicious noodles, cold Hanoi beer.' This is how I'll remember Tony. He taught us about food - but more importantly, about its ability to bring us together. To make us a little less afraid of the unknown. We'll miss him."

"I watched his show when I was in space," Scott Kelly, the Nasa astronaut, wrote on Twitter.

"It made me feel more connected to the planet, its people and cultures and made my time there more palatable. He inspired me to see the world up close."

https://twitter.com/AsiaArgento/status/1005116310366269440

Here's what Bourdain's friends and fans had to say about his death and legacy.

'YOU SHAPED THE WAY WE SEE FOOD'

Chefs and food writers remembered Bourdain fondly for his friendship and the role he played in shaping how his readers and viewers understood food and culture.

"Anthony was a dear friend," Eric Ripert, the French celebrity chef and restaurateur, said in a statement provided to The New York Times. "He was an exceptional human being, so inspiring and generous. One of the great storytellers of our time who connected with so many. I wish him peace. My love and prayers are with his family, friends and loved ones."

Andrew Zimmern, the American celebrity chef, said Bourdain had been in good spirits in recent months. "The irony, the sad cruel irony is that the last year he'd never been happier," Zimmern wrote on Twitter. "The rest of my heart aches for the three amazing women he left behind. Tony was a symphony."

Many praised Bourdain for inspiring others to care more deeply about food.

"You shaped the way we see food, how I travel," Dale Talde, the owner of several restaurants in New York and elsewhere, said on Twitter.

'ONE OF THE BEST STORYTELLERS ON THE PLANET'

Many remembered Bourdain as an expressive and gifted storyteller whose honesty and empathy opened minds.

"Unapologetic, passionate and one of the best storytellers on the planet," Chrissy Teigen, a model and cookbook author, wrote on Twitter. "Thank you for making food so exciting. And always standing up for everything right."

Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of the hit musical Hamilton, expressed gratitude for Bourdain, who had converted Miranda into an adventurous eater.

Some celebrated Bourdain's reportorial instincts, too.

"Anthony Bourdain mastered the art of uncovering, employing the kind of immersive journalism that informed new perspectives and gave new meanings," Goldie Taylor, a journalist and author, wrote on Twitter.

'A CELEBRANT OF COMMUNITIES AND THEIR FOODS'

Much of Bourdain's appeal was rooted in his embrace of new foods and cultures, which he eagerly approached with generosity and receptivity.

 

"One of the nicest people I've ever met - and so genuinely a celebrant of communities and their foods - which had, for Anthony, a spiritual value," author Joyce Carol Oates wrote on Twitter.

Another author, Gary Shteyngart, remembered taking Bourdain to Brighton Beach in Brooklyn for an episode of the show No Reservations. "He was gracious, brilliant and charmed every surly Russian in sight," Shteyngart wrote.

'THANK YOU FOR SHINING YOUR LIGHT ON THE DARK PLACES'

Bourdain was also remembered for the compassion and humanity he showed, in ways big and small, outside the world of food.

Jordana Rothman, restaurant editor of Food & Wine magazine, remembered him for a small generosity.

"At a time in my career when people still looked through me at parties to see if someone more important was on the other side, Bourdain shook my hand and asked me what I care about," she wrote on Twitter. "I've paid the gift forward in a thousand handshakes since."

Others celebrated his honest embrace of the #MeToo movement, not only through his support of Argento, his girlfriend and one of many women who accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, but also through his own introspection as a man.

Bourdain was also praised for using his prominence to shine a spotlight on strife around the world, with many sharing a short speech he gave in accepting an award from the Muslim Public Affairs Council for an episode on Israel and Palestine.

In the speech, Bourdain described the episode as hardly unusual in that it merely showed "regular people doing everyday things - cooking and enjoying meals, playing with their children, talking about their lives, their hopes and dreams."

"It is a measure I guess of how twisted and shallow our depiction of a people is that these images come as a shock to so many," he said.

"The world has visited many terrible things on the Palestinian people, none more shameful than robbing them of their basic humanity. People are not statistics, that is all we attempted to show."