Victoria chefs and foodies shocked by sudden death of Anthony Bourdain

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WATCH: Celebrity chef and TV host Anthony Bourdain has died from an apparent suicide. Victoria chefs and foodies are remembering him as someone who had a huge influence on the industry. Tess van Straaten reports.

At the Whole Beast in Oak Bay, there’s shock and sadness over the apparent suicide of celebrity chef and television host Anthony Bourdain, who was found dead in France where he was filming an episode for his acclaimed CNN series Parts Unknown.

“Hugely shocked and nobody saw that coming,” says chef and Whole Beast owner Cory Pelan. “It was not a nice thing to wake-up to this morning. He meant a lot to me.”

“You don’t believe it at first and then it’s confirmed, his show confirmed it, and you wonder about the circumstances,” adds Victoria-based food writer Don Genova. “It’s disbelief.”

Genova interviewed Bourdain twice and says the bad boy chef was genuine and thoughtful with his answers.

“Everybody is calling him a celebrity chef,” Genova says. “I think he would hate that term. I remember he said to me specifically, I’m not a chef, I’m a cook and to him, the cooks were the heroes of the kitchen.”

The 61-year-old shot to fame in 2000 with the best-selling book Kitchen Confidential ? a behind-the-scenes exposĂ© on New York’s restaurant scene.

“Kitchen Confidential came out right at the beginning of my career and it influenced a lot of us,” Pelan says. “We thought he was a rock star, to be perfectly honest. He was a cook’s cook and he never professed to be a great chef but he loved everything about cooking and food so we felt like he was one of us.”

Bourdain visited the Sooke Harbour House in 2007 and featured the Greater Victoria landmark on his Discovery travel show “No Reservations.”

The globe-trotting chef would visit more than 120 countries in all, devouring local cuisine and culture with a huge lust for life ? which makes his suicide all the more shocking.

“It’s perplexing,” says Genova. “No one can kind of pretend to know what’s going on inside somebody’s brain when that happens so I guess the message is always, let’s talk about this stuff and get people help if they need it.”

If you or anyone you know is struggling and needs help, you can call the B.C. Suicide Prevention Centre crisis line at 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433).

Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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