Gladys Bourdain Dead: Anthony Bourdain’s Mom Dies At 85

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Gladys Bourdain, the mother of the late chef and author Anthony Bourdain, passed away at a hospice facility in the Bronx on Friday, January 10, 2020, according to The New York Times. She was 85.

Bourdain before was a prolific reporter and writer before her son’s career took off. She started working for the New York Times in 1984 and wrote at the premiere news outlet for 24 years. In addition to the Grey Lady, she penned articles for the Opera News, Musical America and The Times, the latter of which she profiled the iconic Julia Child in 1978, an article which mirrored the illustrious cooking career Anthony would grow up to achieve.

Child told Bourdain in the interview, “When I first started in television,” she said, “I was very ‘holy’ about doing everything by hand — beating egg whites, everything. But when I got into quantity cooking — at a Tastevin dinner, I was supposed to do pastry for quail tarts for 120 people — and having to do five of everything for the show, realized the machine is necessary.”

Bourdain got Child to open about her success as a chef on TV. “My interest is turning people on to cooking,” Child said. “Most people will say, ‘Well, I’ll make a soufflé next week.’ But ‘ they look at a food processor and realize how easy it makes everything. they’ll do it now. What I want them to do is to start cooking.”

Bourdain’s death was confirmed by her younger son, Christopher Bourdain, a banker based in New York, who said that her health had been declining for years. It was also Christopher who first informed his mother of Anthony’s death, after he committed suicide at age 61 in June 2018.

She told USA Today in a phone interview of her late son, “He didn’t disguise anything or take on any act of persona,” she said. “He was who he was, and it was out there for everyone to see.”

The last time Gladys heard from her son was on Mother’s Day 2018, and she said at the time that she didn’t sense anything was wrong. In honor of her son’s memory, she got her first and only tattoo.


Bourdain’s Father Pierre Died In 1987 At Age 57

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According to his obituary in The New York Times, which says he left behind two sons, Anthony and Christopher, both of New York City. Bourdain’s father was only 57-years-old when he died of a heart attack at his home.

Pierre Bourdain was born in Manhattan, attended Yale University and served in the U.S. Army between 1951 and 1953. After working in sales promotion for London Records and a classical merchandising manager for CBS Records, Pierre became the co-owner of Orpheus Compact Disks.


Gladys Bourdain Said That Her Son ‘Always Had Talent’ & Encouraged Him To Attend Culinary School

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While speaking with USA Today, Bourdain only had wonderful things to say about Anthony. “He always had an incredible vocabulary,” she said. In 2nd grade, (his teacher) suggested that we put him into a private school because he was sitting in a corner reading books while all the other kids were learning how to read.”

Bourdain also helped inspire her son’s love for cooking. “The thing is he came back from his first summer in Provincetown as a dishwasher, and then one of the cooks burned himself or cut himself so badly he had to stop work and Tony, who had been just observing, filled in,” she said. And when he came back at the end of that summer, we talked about it and since he had so little interest in his college career. I suggested the Culinary Institute and that’s how it all started.”

Bourdain is also responsible for Anthony’s article, “Don’t Eat Before Reading This,” getting published in the New Yorker in 1999 after pitching it to Times reporter Esther Fein, who was married to the magazine’s editor, David Remnick.

Fein recalled Bourdain saying, “I hate to sound like a pushy mom, but I’m telling you this with my editor’s hat on, not my mother’s hat on. It’s really good, and it’s really interesting, but nobody will look at it, nobody will call him back or give it a second look. Could you put it in your husband’s hands?”

It was that article that led Anthony to publish Kitchen Confidential, the New York Times bestselling memoir which propelled his entire career in motion.

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