Anthony Bourdain was anything but conventional, and that translated into his unconventional marriage and subsequent split from his wife of nine years, Ottavia Busia. The late celebrity chef, who died of an apparent suicide in France at age 61, split from his wife in 2016, but they remained close after their divorce and continued to raise their 11-year-old daughter together. At the time of their split, Bourdain said the couple’s separation wasn’t much of a lifestyle change at all.
“My wife and I live, have lived, very separate lives for years,” Anthony told People magazine in 2016. “There’s no drama here. We get along really, really well and it’s not a big lifestyle change happening here.”
Anthony and Ottavia had one daughter, Ariane, whom they continued to co-parent after their split. Bourdain told People, “we have somehow managed to raise a very healthy, very happy, self-assured little girl who knows she’s loved, who finds her parents entertaining.”
In a statement announcing their split, Bourdain and Busia said, “we’ll always consider ourselves a family.”
Bourdain met his ex-wife Ottavia Busia, a mixed martial artist 22 years his junior, when they were introduced by a mutual friend when she worked at a New York City restaurant. The controversial Kitchen Confidential author was smitten.
Busia detailed the couple’s story on her blog Married to a Chef, revealing that they used to meet after her shift was over and drink beers together for hours as they talked about her day working in the kitchen. The couple’s first real date was at a cigar bar and it wasn’t long before the lovebirds got matching chef’s knife tattoos.
Anthony Bourdain was in his 50s when he and Ottavia welcomed their only child Ariane. Bourdain later told Takeout.com he realized he was finally at a point in his life where he felt ready for fatherhood.
“I guess my whole life, as much as I might have wanted a child for the reason that everybody wants one, I always recognized that at no point until I was 50 was I old enough or up to the job,” Bourdain said in 2016. “I thought, you know what, I not only really want a child, but at this point, finally in my life, I think I’m up to the job and I’m the type of person who could do the job well and I’m financially prepared to look after a child.”
Anthony Bourdain told Takeout that Ariane was his harshest critic in the kitchen. In 2016, he even released a cookbook, Appetites, that detailed his daughter’s favorite recipes. It is clear the daddy-daughter duo had a close bond. Bourdain previously told The Guardian, “Ariane has me wrapped around her finger. All I can realistically hope for is that she feels loved. That she has high self-esteem. And good martial-arts skills.”
In his final interview with People earlier this year, Anthony Bourdain revealed that he had contemplated suicide in the past but that his daughter gave him the will to live.
“There have been times, honestly, in my life that I figured, ‘I’ve had a good run — why not just do this stupid thing, this selfish thing… jump off a cliff into water of indeterminate depth,'” Bourdain said in February. “In retrospect, I don’t know that I would do that today — now that I’m a dad or reasonably happy.”
Before his marriage to Ottavia Busia, Anthony Bourdain was married to Nancy Putkoski from 1985 to 2005. At the time of his death, Bourdain was dating actress Asia Argento.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. For readers outside the U.S., visit Suicide.org or Befrienders Worldwide for international resources you can use to find help.