Chef Eric Ripert had the unfortunate experience of being the person who first learned of the death of Anthony Bourdain. The two were in France together, working on a new episode of the award-winning Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown for CNN when he found his friend had died by hanging in a room at Le Chambard, a luxury hotel in Kayersberg. Christian de Rocquigny du Fayel, public prosecutor in Colmar, France, has affirmed that there was no sign of involvement by a third party and that death by hanging was the official cause of Bourdain’s death.
Ripert told People that he and his friend went on a tandem bike ride in the French countryside two days before his 61-year-old friend ended his life. Todd Liebler, cinematographer and cameraman for the show, posted a picture of the two riding through Colmar, the third largest commune in Alsace. Chef Eric expressed his grief and his condolences for family and friends.
“Anthony was a dear friend. 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.”
Before the photo that was taken as Ripert and Bourdain stopped on the side of the road, Ripert and Bourdain ate at a Colmar restaurant named Wistub La Petite Venise. The duo posed for photographs with the restaurant’s chef, Alexis Schonstein, while there. The French chef expressed his gratitude and his enjoyment of their meeting and thanked Bourdain on Instagram.
Following news of his death, Schonstein took to Instagram again to express his grief.
Anthony Bourdain had been friends with Ripert for over 20 years. They both rose to prominence in New York City around the same time but took different paths to get there. Bourdain started as dishwasher then rose through the ranks to prep drone, followed by line cook, then sous-chef, and finally executive chef. He worked in top New York Restaurants like the Supper Club, Sullivan’s, Manhattan’s Brasserie Les Halles, and One Fifth Avenue.
Chef Eric Ripert is from Antibes, France, and earned critical acclaim at Le Bernardin. The restaurant received a four-star rating from the New York Times during Ripert’s time there. He has earned awards including the James Beard Top Chef award since coming to the U.S. He appeared frequently on multiple shows starring Bourdain over the years, including A Cook’s Life on the Food Network, No Reservations on The Travel Channel, and Parts Unknown on CNN.
Ripert described his friendship with Bourdain in 2017, saying, in part,
“We have a great friendship and great respect… We laugh and it’s comfortable because we can be calm, and sometimes we don’t speak at all and we’ll be happy together. I think he likes that a lot… he needs to have a moment of peace during the day… we don’t see each other a lot so it makes quite a difference, and opportunity to be together.”
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.