Anthony Bourdain’s Friend, Michael Ruhlman, Says ‘Bad Boy’ Persona Is ‘What Made Him Great’

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Michael Ruhlman traveled with Anthony Bourdain to locations across the globe for two of his shows: CNN’s Parts Unknown and The Travel Channel’s No Reservations. They indulged in chili at a Cleveland, Ohio, location of Skyline Chili and dined at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. And they visited the Culinary Institute of America in Hudson Valley together and reminisced about days past. Upon hearing of Bourdain’s death on Friday, Ruhlman described his reaction as “absolutely stunned” and “gutted” according to People. The American author, cook, and entrepreneur described his friend as a “gentle soul” then followed up with a commentary on Anthony’s personality.

“Remember that he would have hated it … he would have been appalled by the platitudes that I’m saying. He would have told me to shut the f— up. Was he a bad boy? Yeah, he was. But that’s what made him great.”

He tweeted his grief on Friday, saying “Absolutely stunned. @Bourdain you mother*****. You giant. You writer. You most loyal to all around you. God, I’m so sad. Oh, this world. We’ve lost a hero.”

That combination of “gentle soul” and “bad boy” in Bourdain is an apt description of his friendship with Ruhlman. It was a relationship known for the banter between the two men. The word frenemy is a better description of their relationship than either friend or enemy.


The world was shocked Friday morning to learn of the famed chef’s suicide. Found dead at the age of 61 by long-time friend Eric Ripert, the man who said he had “the best job in the world” because he was getting paid to go anywhere in the world he wants to go. So many are left many wondering why. He was, in fact, in France to film a new episode of his award-winning show on CNN, Parts Unknown, when he died. In a statement Friday, CNN spoke of Bourdain’s passion for travel, food, and friends and his skill gained by his travels for telling a story.

Michael offered something though that may be of some comfort. He described Anthony Bourdain’s philosophy on health and life like this.

“‘I’m not going to treat my body like a temple. I’m going to treat it like a fun house.’ And that’s what he did.”

The world may never know why he chose to take his life, but it seems clear that he lived life on his own terms, the way he thought life should be lived.

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 or Befrienders Worldwide for international resources you can use to find help.