“Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi revealed she and Anthony Bourdain “really bonded" over their daughters and that she was shocked by the celebrity chef’s suicide because he was “doing really well” before his death.
Speaking to People, Lakshmi said she was “shocked and saddened” to hear her friend and frequent “Top Chef” guest judge had died. Bourdain, 61, was found dead in a hotel room’s bathroom in France on Friday. French prosecutors said the CNN’s “Parts Unknown” host hanged himself with a bathrobe belt.
“I’ve known Tony for such a long time. I was just really shocked and saddened because he had been doing really well,” Lakshmi told People in an interview released Saturday.
She added, “Obviously his career is better than it’s ever been, he seemed to really be in love with his girlfriend, and he had a beautiful young daughter. I’ve been walking around all day with this empty pit in my stomach.”
Lakshmi said she and Bourdain, who has an 11-year-old daughter Ariane, got close after the birth of the 47-year-old host’s daughter, Krishna Thea. She said the two hosts had “really bonded” over talking about their daughters.
“I really got close to him after the birth of my daughter,” Lakshmi said. “I may have even been a bit intimidated by him before that. I think he could see what I was dealing with and juggling. And he had a lot of empathy for that.”
The host said though Bourdain is known for his “rough and rash” attitude, the chef was also “really tender and sweet.”
“There were times when he would just take Krishna and bounce her on his knee. And he would always say, ‘Give me that baby! I need a bit of that new baby smell!’ It made me laugh. He would just nuzzle his face into Krishna’s neck and would say how much he missed his daughter and how much he missed that new baby smell,” she said.
“He was great like that. He was a guys’ guy, but also a champion [for] women. He stepped up for the underdog. And often the underdogs in the kitchen are women,” Lakshmi added.
Lakshmi called Bourdain one of the wittiest people she knew who had a “mischievous rebel” side to him. She continued praising her friend, who she said “brought a breath of fresh air and a new energy.”
“The reason people loved him and watched him travel around the world was that he had an innate curiosity about other people and other cultures,” she said. “He had an uncanny ability to see the humanity in everyone, whether he could identify with them or not.”
Celebrities and fans mourned Bourdain’s death on Friday. Bourdain’s girlfriend, Asia Argento, said in a statement that she was “beyond devastated” and asked for privacy.
"Anthony gave all of himself in everything that he did. His brilliant, fearless spirit touched and inspired so many, and his generosity knew no bounds. He was my love, my rock, my protector,” she said in her statement.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).