The 61-year-old was in France working on an upcoming episode of his award-winning American travel and food show, Parts Unknown.
Bourdain’s close friend, French chef Eric Ripert, who appeared on a number of Bourdain’s shows, found him unresponsive on Friday morning. Bourdain was staying at Le Chambard, in the village of Kaysersberg.
“Anthony was a dear friend,” Mr. Ripert said in a statement. “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.”
Bourdain’s girlfriend, actress Asia Argento released a statement on Twitter and Instagram yesterday, writing: “Anthony gave all of himself in everything that he did. His brilliant, fearless spirit touched and inspired so many, and his generosity knew no bounds”.
“He was my love, my rock, my protector. I am beyond devastated,” she continued.
Bourdain first met 42-year-old Italian actress Argento in late 2016, when she appeared on an episode of Parts Unknown in Rome.
“She’s a really accomplished director and writer along with being a longtime actress and a real sponge for culture, music, literature,” Bourdain told People last year.
Although Bourdain spent nearly 70 per cent of the year working on Parts Unknown, the couple’s relationship worked because they both shared an exceptional work ethic.
“This woman likes to work. She is strong, independent, creative, and needs to have an obsession, needs to make things,” he told People earlier this year.
“I think we’re both relieved by the fact that we both respect each other’s work. Nobody’s ever going to say, ‘Oh, but you promised we were going to go to the beach.’ No, you get a gig, that’s it. Work first.”
Bourdain and Argento often worked together, with Argento recently directing an episode of Parts Unknown.
“Look, anytime I can get work out of Asia… that’s a huge help to the show,” Bourdain told IndieWire.
“I’d love to have her a continuing director. I just don’t think we can afford her. But, my god, I’d love nothing more than to repeat the experience. She made it incredible.”
Argento was also one of the dozens of women to accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault and harassment.
The couple first met shortly after Argento accused Harvey Weinstein of forcibly performing oral sex on her during the late 90s in a story for the New Yorker.
Over the course of the #MeToo movement, Bourdain demonstrated unwavering support for both his girlfriend and her fellow accusers. He was one of the most vocal male allies of the #MeToo movement.
“I am proud and honored to know you,” Bourdain tweeted after Argento revealed her story. “You just did the hardest thing in the world.”
In November, he also held a dinner for Argento and her fellow Weinstein accusers, Rose McGowan and Annabella Sciorra.
In May this year, Argento spoke out at the Cannes Film Festival, calling out Weinstein’s enablers in her speech – a move which Bourdain applauded her for.
“It was absolutely fearless to walk right into the lion’s den and say what she said, the way she said it,” he told IndieWire.
When sexual harassment allegations were made against fellow chefs Mario Batali (a longtime friend of Bourdain) and restaurateur Ken Friedman, Bourdain still stood firmly with their accusers – despite his personal biases.
“In these current circumstances, one must pick a side. I stand unhesitatingly and unwaveringly with the women,” Bourdain wrote in a Medium essay.
“Not out of virtue, or integrity, or high moral outrage – as much as I’d like to say so – but because late in life, I met one extraordinary woman with a particularly awful story to tell, who introduced me to other extraordinary women with equally awful stories.”
Before meeting Argento, Bourdain was married twice.
Bourdain married his high school girlfriend, Nancy Putkosku in 1985. They were together for two decades before they divorced in 2005.
He later married MMA fighter Ottavia Bursa in 2007, before they separated in 2016.
Bursa and Bourdain share a daughter together, 11-year-old Ariane Bourdain.
Bourdain’s career began in the New York restaurant scene, where he spent two decades washing dishes and cooking in professional kitchens.
He rose to celebrity chef status after submitting an article to the New Yorker about the dark side of the restaurant world. The article was later developed into the infamous 2000 book, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly.
Through his book, Bourdain exposed the dark side of hospitality, opening up about drugs, drinking and the relentless hours of the job. He was open about his past drug addictions to heroin and cocaine.
He went on to host food and travel tv programs, including No Reservations and Parts Unknown.
On social media, celebrities and friends of Bourdain expressed their grief.
Bourdain’s death comes just days after beloved American designer Kate Spade died of suicide.