Despite one of his catchphrases, "I write, I travel, I eat, and I'm hungry for more", the celebrated author, chef and presenter commits suicide aged just 61.
Almost single-handedly he re-invented the chef as oracle and commentator with his marvellous "Kitchen Confidential", a bestseller when published in 2000, blazing a trail Gordon Ramsey and Jamie Oliver would later follow in their differing styles. The book set Bourdain on the road to fame.
The book made him famous almost overnight, and it was a fame that ensured guest appearances and celebrity friends, many of whom he would invite onto his television shows for the Food Channel, Discovery, Travel and latterly CNN, until the end of his life. The fame also gave him a platform, and he used it, being an early campaigner for the rights of the overwhelmingly Latin American catering staff and agricultural workforce in America.
He could also cook like a dream, as no less an authority than the son of great French chef Paul Bocuse, Jerome, confirmed.
"He was out of the ordinary, an exceptional chef who proved himself in the kitchen. But above all, he helped us discover the world, its gastronomy and its chefs. He was a sort of adventurer. We'll miss him and his shows. He stood alone in the world of cooking, a little bit of the bad boy. He had his personality, but we all loved him," said Bocuse.
In his 61 years he travelled the world, revealing its cusine, but it was in France where he reached the end of the menu while filming for American television, where he had become a fixture. For nearly two decades he railed against the poor quality of American fast food, comparing it unfavourably with the street food he found on his travels, which he championed.
Twice divorced, he had one daughter, Ariane, aged 11. At the time of his death he was dating Italian actress Asia Argento, and was a vocal critic of sexual harassment in restaurants, upping the volume after Argento accused Harvey Weinstein of rape.