Anthony Bourdain – Sorrow and Questions in a French Village After Suicide
Mr. Bourdain’s sudden death at Le Chambard, a five-star hotel in the village, also sent shock waves through the world’s restaurant industry.
It spurred an outpouring among fans and foodies, too, who paid tribute on social media to a man who used food as a passport to understand other cultures and who used his star power to back the #MeToo movement, in which his girlfriend, Asia Argento, an Italian actress, was a central figure.
The French officials investigating the suicide said on Saturday that he had been found hanging in his hotel bathroom at 9:10 a.m. on Friday.
“The case is closed,” said Christian de Rocquigny, the local prosecutor in charge of the investigation. “There is no indication of any involvement by a third person, and we’re ready to give the body to his family.”
In interviews with hotel and restaurant employees and with local officials, a portrait of Mr. Bourdain’s last day in the medieval village, close to the German border, emerged.
Mr. Bourdain had been in Kaysersberg to shoot an episode for his CNN show “Parts Unknown.” The village has two Michelin-star restaurants and is in an area famous for its vineyards and its culinary richness.
But on Thursday night, he skipped dinner and did not show up for breakfast the next morning.
Maxime Voinson, 24, a waiter at the Winstub, a restaurant at Le Chambard, said Mr. Bourdain had dined there almost every night with his friend Eric Ripert, the chef of Le Bernardin, a three-star New York restaurant.
“They both stayed in separate rooms, and usually had breakfast and dined together at the Winstub,” Mr. Voinson said.
But on Thursday night, when Mr. Bourdain didn’t show up for dinner, he said: “Mr. Ripert thought it was strange. We thought it was strange. Mr. Bourdain knew the chef, Monsieur Nasti; he knew the kitchen. Maybe he went out and ate somewhere else, we said, but we didn’t think much of it.”
But on Friday morning at breakfast, Mr. Bourdain again didn’t show up. “His friend was waiting at breakfast, and waiting and waiting,” Mr. Voinson said.
Mr. Ripert tried to reach Mr. Bourdain on his cellphone, according to hotel staff. A receptionist then went to Mr. Bourdain’s room, where he was found hanging in the bathroom.
“This leads us to suspect that not much preparation and premeditation went into the act, and leads us more in the direction of an impulsive act,” said Mr. de Rocquigny.
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Investigators were waiting for the results of blood tests, screening for toxic substances and drugs, the results of which were expected to arrive in the coming days, but they were not expected to change the outcome of the investigation.
“This is solely to give the family more information about the motivations and the cause of death,” Mr. de Rocquigny said. “We have no indication that he was consuming alcohol the days before his death or changed his behavior.”
When Mr. Bourdain’s body was found, the hotel staff immediately called the local gendarmerie, which arrived within less than half an hour and sealed off Mr. Bourdain’s hotel room for the day. His belongings were put into a safe, and his body was taken out the backdoor to Colmar, the nearest city, where the local prosecutor opened an investigation.
Mr. Bourdain’s body is being held at a morgue in Colmar, officials said, as relatives made preparations to claim it.
Olivier Nasti, the two-star chef who runs the Winstub, owns Le Chambard in Kaysersberg and carries the title “meilleur ouvrier de France” (a national distinction rewarding the best craftsmen in their field), knew Mr. Bourdain as a friend and as a colleague.
In a media statement, he expressed his condolences to Mr. Bourdain’s family and to “the anonymous people around the world” whom he had inspired to dream. He called Mr. Bourdain “the leader, the author, the TV entertainer, the visionary.”
He added: “It is the whole family of French gastronomy that joins me, to renew our deep friendship to our American brothers bereaved.” Mr. Nasti declined to give any further comment.
In Kaysersberg, which has flourished from tourists who flock here for the restaurants and hotels, and for the bucolic landscapes nearby, residents expressed puzzlement at Mr. Bourdain’s death.
Christophe Jalin, who grew up in the village and still lives here, was drinking coffee at a standing table across the street from Le Chambard on Saturday morning.
“Why did he do this in France?” Mr. Jalin asked of Mr. Bourdain. “Why did he do this in Kaysersberg?”
He expressed concern for Mr. Nasti, who is known by locals for being kind and open but disciplined at work.
Jim Gil, 66, a retired American automobile tire salesman from the Bay Area in California, was following a tour guide through the town on Saturday, along with his wife and two dozen fellow travelers.
“Is this where it happened?” Mr. Gil wondered, standing in front of Le Chambard. Like so many Americans, Mr. Gil had watched Mr. Bourdain’s television shows and was a fan.
“It makes me sad; it’s the second star who kills himself,” he said. A few days before, the celebrated handbag designer Kate Spade had also killed herself. “They were at the height of their success; they were young.”
“He opened up doors; he took people where they would otherwise not go,” Mr. Gil mused. “He opened up hope, food, where people wouldn’t go, because they were afraid to go. He made them be not afraid.” He added, “It’s telling that he killed himself in this picturesque, story tale village in the middle of the vineyards.”
On Tuesday, Anthony Bourdain posted a photo on his Instagram account of a meal he had: choucroute garnie, a hearty traditional dish from eastern France. “Light lunch,” he wrote.
In a statement, Mr. Ripert said: “Anthony Bourdain was a dear friend. He was an exceptional human being, so inspiring and generous. One of the great storytellers of our time.”
As for Mr. Nasti, he was back in his kitchen on Friday, visible through a glass window. He had ordered his staff not to speak to reporters about Mr. Bourdain’s death and to carry on working.
Dressed in his chef uniform, he could be seen making wild gestures with his arms and directing his kitchen staff to prepare for the opening of the restaurant at noon, guests at the hotel said.
And on Saturday morning, he was back there again, cooking.