As It Happens

Writer who helped land Anthony Bourdain's first book remembers an 'inquisitive, loyal friend'

Writer Joel Rose remembers the literary work of his close friend, Anthony Bourdain.

Renowned chef and TV host Anthony Bourdain was found dead this week in France

Anthony Bourdain poses for a photo during an interview with The Canadian Press in Toronto on Monday, October 31, 2016. The celebrity chef and author passed away on June 8, 2018. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

The death of renowned chef and author Anthony Bourdain shocked the world on Friday.

According to CNN, which airs his TV series Parts Unknown, he was found unresponsive in a Paris hotel room. The company said he took his own life. He was 61.

For close friend and creative collaborator Joel Rose, the news left him devastated, confused and sad.

"We were in communication this week. Two days ago," Rose said.

Rose and Bourdain had a friendship that spanned three decades. And it was Rose and his wife, who works in publishing, who helped Bourdain get his tell-all memoir Kitchen Confidential published.

Rose and Bourdain also collaborated in four-part comic book anthology series called Hungry Ghosts published earlier this year.

Joel Rose spoke with As It Happens host Carol Off. Here is part of their conversation.

What was he like as a friend?

Just as you observe him.  That's who he was, he was not shrouded in any way.

He wasn't playing a part, or trying to please anybody, that's just who he was.

He was a fine, inquisitive, very bright person, a great storyteller, a close friend and a loyal friend. He's a fighter and he's a believer. [Anthony] was interested in others before himself. He was fascinated by knowledge and gaining it. He was amazing.

Flowers and a photo of Anthony Bourdain are seen at a make shift memorial outside the building that once housed Le Halles restaurant in New York. Bourdain, was found dead Friday in his hotel room in France while working on his CNN series. (Mary Altaffer via Associated Press)

How did you two become friends? 

I had a little crazy literary magazine on the Lower East Side in the early 1980s.

One day, I got a comic book submission in the mail and the art was less than great, but the writing was really good.

So I wrote a little note to the guy and the next thing I know, about a week later, somebody rang the buzzer in my apartment downstairs, and I went down to let him in.

It was Bourdain.

And you know, we've just been friends ever since.

In this file photo, Anthony Bourdain arrives at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards in Los Angeles. On Friday, June 8, 2018, Bourdain was found dead in his hotel room in France, while working on his CNN series on culinary traditions around the world. (Chris Pizzello via Associated Press)

When did you both realize that he had this way with words? What made him into the writer he was?

Kitchen Confidential came out of an e-mail he sent me from Japan. He wrote me this incredible funny e-mail, and I told my wife who is a publisher and an editor about it.

I got her to read it and she called his agent and asked me if Tony has more stories... and that became Kitchen Confidential.

I knew right away that he was a really good writer. I just knew it in my heart and soul, but  the problem was that he was terrified about writing.

But he could write and access that genuine voice of his right from the start. He just needed to have some confidence in himself.

You must have shared a lot of meals together. I just wonder if there's any meal that you are going to remember?

The funniest memory that I have is just in our backyard down in New Jersey on the Jersey Shore.

And we went and had clams one day and he made it for a bunch of people  who came over and everything was great...but one person had a bad clam and got really sick. 

Tony was really apologetic about it but the guy was like "no need to apologize," it was like the best day of his life. He got sick from a clam that Tony Bourdain made.

How will you remember your friend?

I don't even know right now, just with sadness right now...I'm confused and shocked and so saddened.

He was a good guy. He was an important person.

He reached a lot of people. He wanted the best for for everyone. He did not allow his ego and his own self interests to blind him of anything.

Anthony Bourdain poses for a photo during an interview with The Canadian Press in Toronto. Renowned chef and author Anthony Bourdain has been found dead in France while working on a program. (Frank Gunn via The Canadian Press)

[Tony] understood that he worked hard. But he also understood that he reached a lot of people and he wanted to tell stories that brought us closer together in the world.

He wanted us to understand people who might have been forgotten or just swept under the rug.

I will miss him with all my heart, with all my soul and all my might.

Where to get help:

Canada Suicide Prevention Service: 1-833-456-4566 (Phone) | 45645 (Text) 

Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention: Find a 24-hours crisis centre

Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 (Phone), Live Chat counselling 


If you're worried someone you know may be at risk of suicide, you should talk to them about it, says the Canadian Association of Suicide Prevention. 

Here are some warning signs: 

Suicidal thoughts.
Substance abuse.
Purposelessness.
Anxiety.
Feeling trapped.
Hopelessness and helplessness.
Withdrawal.
Anger.
Recklessness.
Mood changes.


Written by Earvin Solitario with files from Reuters and Associated Press. Interview with Joel Rose produced by Jeanne Armstrong. Q&A edited for length and clarity.


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