Anthony Bourdain and the women he leaves behind

Anthony Bourdain and girlfriend Asia Argento at the 2017 Creative Arts Emmy Awards, Sept. 9, 2017. (Photo: John Salangsang/Invision for the Television Academy/AP Images)
Anthony Bourdain and girlfriend Asia Argento at the 2017 Creative Arts Emmy Awards, Sept. 9, 2017. (Photo: John Salangsang/Invision for the Television Academy/AP Images)

Anthony Bourdain was found dead Friday in his hotel room in Strasbourg, France, where he had been working on his CNN series, Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. His body was discovered by his friend and fellow chef Eric Ripert, who said Bourdain had committed suicide.

Bourdain lived a lot in his 61 years. In his early ones, he dealt with addiction (“All I can tell you is this: I got off of heroin in the 1980s. … There are a lot of guys that didn’t get that far,” he once said), but he turned his love of food into a career that eventually took him around the globe. The man who didn’t have a savings account until he was 44 said, “I should’ve died in my 20s. I became successful in my 40s. I became a dad in my 50s. I feel like I’ve stolen a car — a really nice car — and I keep looking in the rearview mirror for flashing lights.”

Food was his most well-known passion, but he had many others, including jujitsu, for which he received awards. And he had a lot of passion for the women in his life. He was dating Italian actress Asia Argento, standing strong by her side after she came forward as a Harvey Weinstein accuser and collaborating with her on his show. He was married two times previously and also leaves behind an 11-year-old daughter.

First marriage to Nancy Putkoski

According to a 2017 New Yorker feature, “In high school, Bourdain fell in love with an older girl, Nancy Putkoski, who ran with a druggie crowd, and he started dabbling in illicit substances himself.” In 1973, he followed her to Vassar but dropped out after two years and enrolled at the nearby Culinary Institute of America. He graduated and moved back to New York with Putkoski, tying the knot with her in 1985. In the interview, he likened their marriage to the film Drugstore Cowboy, which portrayed Matt Dillon and Kelly Lynch as drug addicts who robbed pharmacies to feed their addictions. “That kind of love and codependency and sense of adventure — we were criminals together,” he said. “A lot of our life was built around that, and happily so.”

Bourdain’s addiction was serious, and he has talked about being followed by the Drug Enforcement Administration. He said that aside from their drug use, they lived a low-key life, watching The Simpsons, getting takeout, and saving up for a nice Caribbean vacation every few years. (For her part, Putkoski told the New Yorker that her ex was “pretty dramatic.” She said, “It does look pretty bleak in the rearview mirror. But, when you’re living it, it’s just your life. You struggle through.”)

Bourdain worked his way up in the restaurant industry, and an article he wrote for the New Yorker in 1999, “Don’t Eat Before Reading This,” became a best-selling book, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, a year later. In 2005, his TV career took off when he began hosting the Travel Channel’s Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. That was also the year his marriage ended.

Dating gossip columnist Paula Froelich

For several months in early 2005, Bourdain had a romance with then-Page Six columnist Paula Froelich, who is now a travel writer. Their relationship status was confirmed at her book party for It! 9 Secrets of the Rich and Famous That’ll Take You to the Top that April when she was asked by a New York Times reporter how she got Bourdain to cater the event. “I have to tell you he offered,” she replied, “which I never would have asked him. I mean that’s a bit much, you know, to be like, ‘Oh hey by the way I know that we like to hang out and have sex but will you cook for my party?’ You know, no. He offered.”

On Friday, Froelich, who told the Daily Beast that she saw Bourdain last year, took to Twitter to react to his passing.

Second marriage to Ottavia Busia

He was introduced to his second wife, Ottavia Busia, by his friend Ripert. She is Italian and at the time was a hostess at one of Ripert’s restaurants. Bourdain wrote about being “enraptured” by the way she ate a lobster on their first date. On their second date, they got matching tattoos (a chef’s knife), and eight months after that they were talking about having children. Their daughter, Ariane, was born in April 2007, and they were married just over a week later.

For Bourdain, “fatherhood changes everything,” he told CBS This Morning in 2016. “At that moment, you stop being the star of the film. For me, that was an enormous relief and a gift.” He told, “You think, thank god, that was a burden. You know it’s not about ‘me’ anymore at all.”

Anthony Bourdain with his second wife, Ottavia Busia, at the premiere of <em>The Big Short</em>, Nov. 23, 2015, in New York. (Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)
Anthony Bourdain with his second wife, Ottavia Busia, at the premiere of The Big Short, Nov. 23, 2015, in New York. (Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

At least initially, Busia traveled with Bordain — with baby in tow. And the couple bonded over jujitsu (she bribed him to go with a Vicodin), which she took up to lose baby weight and he soon adopted. But Bourdain’s “insane schedule” was a challenge, she told the Miami New Times in 2010. “The holidays are the only times when he’s home,” Ottavia told MarriedToAChef. “I remember once waking up in the middle of the night terrified because someone was in my bed. That someone was my husband, I had just forgotten that he was home.”

She appeared in several episodes of No Reservations but told the New York Times in 2010, “I hate being on TV.” She became a mixed-martial-arts fighter. They announced their split in September 2016, with Busia saying, “Because of professional decisions we both have made, my husband and I have been for years in an unconventional relationship.”

Bourdain was quoted in the 2017 New Yorker feature as saying that he was glad they no longer had to “pretend” and that their split was “not much of a change of lifestyle, as we have lived separate lives for many years. More of a change of address.” He also joked about how his wife had changed since they married, saying, “She’s an interesting woman. I admire her choices. But I married Sophia Loren. She turned into Jean-Claude Van Damme.” (It wasn’t an insult; it was an inside joke between them because jujitsu had become her life.)

In November 2017, he told People that traveling 250 days a year while working on projects meant missing most family meals. “I’m living the dream,” he said. “I have the best job in the world and I’m very grateful for that. And I don’t plan on walking away from that any time soon, I can assure you — but it comes at a cost. … I now wake up alone in a lot of faraway places looking at beautiful vistas and doing interesting things. But the truth is I’m alone for most of that time.”

Dating actress Asia Argento

In February 2017, Bourdain began dating another Italian actress, Asia Argento, whom he met when she appeared in the Rome episode of Parts Unknown.

They were photographed together a lot around Rome, where she is a single parent to two children, and made it Instagram official in May 2017. They went public at the Creative Arts Emmys last September. Around that time, he told People, “[Asia] has spent a lifetime in film since she was 9 years old. She comes from generations of filmmakers on both sides of the family. She’s a really accomplished director and writer along with being a longtime actress and a real sponge for culture, music, literature. So she’s enormously helpful and inspiring.” He was posting things online like “Best Emmys ever,” and she said that she had her “best birthday ever” after celebrating with him.

Just a perfect day You made me forget myself @asiaargento

A post shared by anthonybourdain (@anthonybourdain) on Apr 25, 2018 at 10:23am PDT

When she stepped forward to accuse Harvey Weinstein of rape, Bourdain had her back. (He also memorably told Alec Baldwin to “shut up” when he was offering women #MeToo advice.) When Asia went off script in Cannes last month, delivering a blistering speech about Weinstein — and telling other men of that ilk that they should be worried, he was proud. They had since been together, and she recently directed an episode of Parts Unknown.

#Firenze @asiaargento La Primavera

A post shared by anthonybourdain (@anthonybourdain) on May 24, 2018 at 10:08am PDT

Three days ago, the Daily Mail ran photos of Argento holding hands with writer Hugo Clement, leading to speculation that she and Bourdain had broken up. However, they didn’t state publicly that they had parted ways — and they’re all over each other’s Instagram pages.

Hours after Bourdain’s passing was announced, she posted a statement on Twitter, calling him her “love,” “rock,” and “protector.”

She wrote, “Anthony gave all of himself in everything that he did. His brilliant, fearless spirit touched and inspired so many, and his generosity knew no bounds. He was my love, my rock, my protector. I am beyond devastated. My thoughts are with his family. I would ask that you respect their privacy and mine.”

The daughter he leaves behind

Bourdain leaves behind his daughter, Ariane, whom he has spoken much about. He told that he was raising her as a feminist, saying, “My soul duty as a parent and as a father, particularly raising a little girl who is going to grow up to be a young woman, is that she will never look to men for affirmation, or anyone else for affirmation or self-worth or be physically intimidated by anyone.”

While talking cooking on CBS This Morning in 2016, he admitted that he found himself trying to impress her — and her friends — noting, “The person I’m trying to please more often than not is a 9-year-old and her friends. I thought it would put a stake through the heart of the bad-boy image left over from 1999.”

And he was so proud that she is a happy kid, but he took no credit for it. “I’m shocked by how happy my daughter is,” he told the New Yorker. “I don’t think I’m deluding myself. I know I’m a loving father. Do I wish sometimes that, in an alternative universe, I could be the patriarch, always there? Tons of kids? Grandkids running around? Yes. And it looks good to me. But I’m pretty sure I’m incapable of it.”

If you or someone you know needs help, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or text “help” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-74. You can also go online here.

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