In the spring of 2016, the then president ate a $6 lunch with Bourdain at Bun Cha Huong Lien, a traditional roadside joint where most local people had little idea who either man was. Bourdain was filming for Parts Unknown season 8 while Mr Obama was negotiating a deal with Vietnam that ended a ban on selling military equipment to the single-party nation.
“Low plastic stool, cheap but delicious noodles, cold Hanoi beer,” wrote the former president following the death of Bourdain, 61, in Kaysersberg, France.
“Low plastic stool, cheap but delicious noodles, cold Hanoi beer.” This is how I’ll remember Tony. He taught us about food — but more importantly, about its ability to bring us together. To make us a little less afraid of the unknown. We’ll miss him. pic.twitter.com/orEXIaEMZM
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) June 8, 2018
“This is how I’ll remember Tony. He taught us about food — but more importantly, about its ability to bring us together. To make us a little less afraid of the unknown. We’ll miss him.”
Current President Donald Trump called Bourdain's death - which French prosecutors are treating as a suicide - as “very shocking.”
“I enjoyed his show, he was quite a character,” Mr Trump told reporters at the White House.
Bourdain worked his way up to become executive chef at a top New York restaurant, and would later talk extensively about his use of drugs and addiction to heroin earlier in his life.
But it was his writing that brought him global fame. In 1999 TheNew Yorker magazine published his article “Don't Eat Before Reading This,” about the secrets of kitchen life, which would eventually become the 2000 book, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly.
He went on to host television programme, first on the Food Network and the Travel Channel, before joining CNN in 2013. Bourdain was filming in France for his series "Part's Unkown" when he was found dead in his hotel room.
“His love of great adventure, new friends, fine food and drink and the remarkable stories of the world made him a unique storyteller,” CNN said in a statement. “His talents never ceased to amaze us.”
Video: Anthony Bourdain on Doing What He Loved
Reuters contributed to this report