Sorrow and Questions in a French Village After Anthony Bourdain’s Suicide

KAYSERSBERG, France — The suicide of Anthony Bourdain, the celebrity chef and television host, left the residents of Kaysersberg, a small village in the Alsace region of France, known for its wine, local food and architecture, puzzled about why he chose this place to end his life.

By: Milan Schreuer

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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