Inside The Relationship Between Anthony Bourdain And His Only Child

This article mentions suicide and drug use.

Fatherhood changed Anthony Bourdain in ways that were both unexpected and exciting. The late chef and author didn't necessarily set out to be a father, but he was glad it was in his cards. Bourdain welcomed Ariane with his second wife, Ottavia Busia, in April 2007, when he was 50. "That's late, I know. But for me, it was just right. At no point previously had I been old enough, settled enough, or mature enough for this, the biggest and most important of jobs," he penned in his 2016 "Appetites: A Cookbook."

Welcoming his daughter was also freeing, a feeling that caught Bourdain by surprise as the birth of a child is often associated with a significant loss of freedom. "At that moment, you stop being the star of the film. For me, that was an enormous relief and a gift," the "Parts Unknown" host said on "CBS This Morning" in 2016. Bourdain embraced the role with the same passion he had for food, travel, and the world.

"I am never happier than when I'm standing in the backyard being, like, TV dad," he said on Morgan Neville's "Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain." In those moments, the "No Reservations" host felt rooted in a way he had never felt before. "I feel normal," he said, laughing. "Whatever the hell that means." Ariane was 11 at the time of Bourdain's tragic death by suicide in June 2018. While young, Ariane was old enough to have built a special relationship with Bourdain

Ariane Bourdain remembers her father with fondness

Ariane remembers Anthony Bourdain as both a typical dad and the opposite of that. On the one hand, he was an engaged father who let her pretend to cut his hair and let her eat fast food away from Ottavia Busia's disapproving eyes. On the other hand, he was a father who let his kid watch "Archer" and play video games intended for adults. "I still watched the regular kid TV shows, but I wasn't hearing about anyone else who was playing 'Grand Theft Auto' with their parents," Ariane recalled in Laurie Woolever's "Bourdain: The Definitive Oral Biography" in an excerpt shared by Vanity Fair.

Bourdain was also the type of father who believed in traditions. Every Father's Day, Bourdain and Ariane went to the New Jersey Palisades and climbed all the way up the hill. "There are perfect stairs, but we decided to just go through the trees and branches and stuff, which you're not supposed to do," she said. Bourdain shared a snippet of their yearly adventure on Instagram in 2016. "Climbing the Palisades. A #FathersDay tradition," he captioned a photo of Ariane in the woods with her back to the camera, as Bourdain always hid her face on social media.

Bourdain and Ariane also shared a love for martial arts, particularly Brazilian jiu-jitsu, something he often boasted about on Instagram. "My warrior princess doesn't let a broken thumb slow her down," he captioned a November 2014 post. The father-daughter bond was clear, but they also had their lows.

Anthony Bourdain is said to have grown distant from Ariane

Anthony Bourdain and Ottavia Busia officially split in 2016, but they had been technically separated for a while, even if they still lived together. It was an arrangement that served all three of them. "We didn't work out as a married couple, but we were doing very well as a family," Busia told biographer Laurie Woolever. After getting serious with a new partner, Asia Argento, Bourdain moved out but promised he would continue to come around every day to be with Ariane. Bourdain couldn't quite live up to it. "For a bit, it really seemed like things were gonna work out, but then everything changed," she said

Busia was worried but tried not to impose. "He was actually really sensitive, and really fragile. And I really think he needed a stable environment around him. When he left, he didn't have that anymore," Busia said. His friends noticed the change, too. "I could see how f**king weird and plastic his life was becoming," celebrity chef Dave Chang told Woolever. But, like Bourdain's estranged wife, they had a difficult time saying anything. "I wasn't going to tell him anything. It was hard to criticize him, as a friend," Chang said.