Anthony Bourdain dead at 61

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NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 02: Anthony Bourdain visits the Build Series to discuss "Raw Craft" at AOL HQ on November 2, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Pont/WireImage)

Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain has died after reportedly taking his own life, aged 61.

He was found dead in a hotel room in Strasbourg, France, where he had been working on an upcoming episode of his programmer.

News of his death was announced by CNN, who he presented the award winning Parts Unknown series for.

The US network said in a statement: “It is with extraordinary sadness we can confirm the death of our friend and colleague, Anthony Bourdain.

“His love of great adventure, new friends, fine food and drink and the remarkable stories of the world made him a unique storyteller. His talents never ceased to amaze us and we will miss him very much

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his daughter and family at this incredibly difficult time.”

Bourdain’s death was the second suicide this week of a high-profile American figure. Designer Kate Spade, who built a fashion empire on her signature handbags, was found dead in her New York apartment of suicide on Tuesday.

His profile began to soar in 1999, when The New Yorker magazine published his article “Don’t Eat Before Reading This”, which he developed into the 2000 book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly.

He went on to host television shows, first on the Food Network and the Travel Channel, before joining CNN in 2013.

Bourdain had been dating Italian actress Asia Argento, who was one of many women to make allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

Of Argento’s recent speech at Cannes film festival, about her allegations that Weinstein raped her, Bourdain said: “It was an incredibly powerful moment, I thought. I am honoured to know someone who has the strength and fearlessness to do something like that.”

Weinstein denies all charges against him.

Bourdain‘s celebrity was such that when Barack Obama went to Hanoi, Vietnam, in May 2016, he met him at a casual restaurant for a $6 meal of noodles and grilled pork.

Donald Trump told reporters as he left the White House that Bourdain‘s death was “very shocking”. “I enjoyed his show, he was quite a character,” the president said.

Suicide rates rose in nearly every US state from 1999 to 2016, according to figures released by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday

Tributes poured in from people who praised Bourdain’s indefatigable spirit and sense of generosity.  Ms Argento said in a statement that he “gave all of himself in everything he did”.

“His brilliant, fearless spirit touched and inspired so many, and his generosity knew no bounds,” she said.

Mr Obama tweeted an image of himself and Bourdain knocking back bottles of beer in Vietnam, writing: “’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.”

An overarching theme was Bourdain’s genuine interest in marginalised people or less-known places, and his desire to tell their stories. One Twitter user recounted Bourdain asking about her parents’ native Trinidad and Tobago during a chance interaction and then visiting for an episode in which “spoke of the island as if he’d fallen in love with it”.

“I think many of us trusted him to do that, to fall in love with the places we came from and to understand why we lived there or why we left there,” the user said. “We trusted him to see us as people first. Not curiosities.”

Ms Argento said in a statement: “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. My thoughts are with his family.”