Anthony Bourdain was 43 when his journey from anonymous chef to global superstar began.
“I think his story of finding himself in middle age is actually very inspiring,” says Morgan Neville, director of Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain, out July 16. “Tony never stopped appreciating the opportunities that came his way.”
Once it started, success for Bourdain never seemed to stop — or what seemed like success. It all began with 2000’s Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, an expansion of a New Yorker piece that laid bare all the ugly, delicious secrets of life in the restaurant industry. The runaway popularity of that best-seller led to his first TV show, 2002’s A Cook’s Tour, which saw Bourdain sampling the local cuisine in far-flung places he’d only read about or seen in movies. (It included some gag-inducing stuff, like consuming the still-beating heart of a freshly killed cobra.)
Three years later, he made the leap to Discovery’s Travel Channel with Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, which ran from 2005 to 2012, and then in 2013 to CNN for Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. He built a massive following. But through it all, he battled demons. He died by suicide in June 2018 at age 61 in Kaysersberg, France, while filming Parts Unknown with a friend, chef Éric Ripert.
“Bourdain was a seeker,” Neville says. “He searched for answers, experiences and knowledge.”
This story first appeared in the July 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.