How Rock Music Shaped 'Bad Boy' Chef Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain — author, travel program host and onetime chef — was found dead in a hotel room in France of an apparent suicide by hanging. The man the Smithsonian Institution called “the original rock star” of the culinary world and “the Elvis of bad boy chefs” was 61 years old.

Bourdain’s connections to music ran deep. He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1978, getting his first work as a cook in New York City just as punk rock was reaching its apex. He was already well acquainted with the music, having embraced the sound and fury of the Stooges, the Ramones and the Dead Boys earlier in the ‘70s, in opposition to the softer sounds the decade had to offer.

In a post he wrote on CNN’s website, Bourdain recalled, “The Stooges’ first album, an antisocial masterpiece of do-it-yourself aggression and raw, nasty, dirty rock ‘n’ roll, came as a welcome emetic. A friend played it for me at his house with the volume down, careful, as we both sensed this stuff was dangerous.”

He would interview Stooges’ frontman Iggy Pop on his CNN program Parts Unknown, and he later recalled their conversation. “Of all the people I’ve met, I’ve never been more intimidated, more anxious, more starstruck than when I met Iggy Pop,” Bourdain said.

Bourdain’s travel programs (Parts Unknown on CNN, as well as A Cook’s Tour on Food Network and No Reservations on Travel Channel) often featured musicians he loved or in which he had interest.

There were more musical guests. Bourdain dined on Texas barbecue with Ted Nugent in a 2008 episode of No Reservations, then went back to Nugent’s ranch to help cook dinner for wounded vets. In the same episode, he visited a restaurant owned by Alice Cooper and talked baseball and fatherhood.

Several musicians and other celebrities posted condolences in the wake of his death.

Bourdain is survived by his 11-year-old daughter, Ariane, and his mother, Gladys.

If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to for a list of additional resources.

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