Eric Ripert Reminisces Over ‘Loyal’ Friend Anthony Bourdain, Pays Tribute To Chef’s Impact

Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert attend 'WASTED! The Story of Food Waste' Premiere during 2017 Tribeca Film Festival at BMCC Tribeca PAC on April 22, 2017 in New York City
Robin Marchant / Getty Images

On Friday morning’s episode of Today, Hoda Kotb and Craig Melvin were joined by renowned French chef Eric Ripert, a close friend of fellow chef and television personality Anthony Bourdain, who committed suicide in June. During his appearance, Ripert spoke fondly of his memories with Bourdain, E! News reported.

“Anthony was a very loyal friend, very noble, very generous with his fans,” Ripert told the talk show hosts.

Ripert, the co-owner and executive chef of Le Bernardin in New York City, is the man who found Bourdain unresponsive in his hotel room in France. Bourdain had been in France to film an upcoming episode of his CNN show Parts Unknown, which Ripert was set to guest star in.

“I have never seen someone so generous and spending so much time with them, signing books, taking pictures everywhere in the street or when he was doing book signings, you would see a line with a thousand people and until the last one, he would stay there,” Ripert continued.

Ripert saw firsthand the impact that Bourdain had on his fans through his travel shows. Following the 61-year-old chef’s death, Ripert called Bourdain his “best friend,” TIME reported.

“He was very curious. We were with him on television. He was taking us on his trips. His curiosity was contagious,” Ripert noted. “We traveled the world with Anthony.”

Bourdain’s work on the travel show was posthumously recognized at the 2018 Emmy Awards. The chef won the awards for Outstanding Writing for Nonfiction Programming and Outstanding Informational Series or Special.

Last month, Ripert spoke about his long friendship with the American chef, whom he met while working in New York City restaurants. He said that the two had been close for 20 years, with Ripert often appearing on Bourdain’s show. The two also frequently traveled together and were friends offscreen.

“We used to play pranks on each other and we used to have a lot of fun, but he never criticized my food, which was nice,” the French chef shared on CBS This Morning.

He also explained Bourdain’s take on culture and travel. The show host believed that one should never be afraid to visit other countries and go out on the town. He encouraged Ripert and his fans to engage with people around the world and learn about their culture through experiences.

“I think he did really well in breaking walls in between us and other countries that we sometimes are a bit scared or nervous to visit and that was really a great part of his legacy,” Ripert said.