CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Anthony Bourdain, who has been in the thoughts of West Virginians because of his recent, nuanced “Parts Unknownvisit to the Mountain State, has died at age 61.

CNN, where “Parts Unknown” appears, reported his death was a suicide. Bourdain had been working on an episode of the program in France.

“It is with extraordinary sadness we can confirm the death of our friend and colleague, Anthony Bourdain,” the network said in a statement Friday morning.

“His love of great adventure, new friends, fine food and drink and the remarkable stories of the world made him a unique storyteller. His talents never ceased to amaze us and we will miss him very much. Our thoughts and prayers are with his daughter and family at this incredibly difficult time.”

His “Parts Unknown” visit to McDowell County, which aired just a few weeks ago, focused on food and culture. Bourdain took an outsider’s interest in how the residents of McDowell County view their world without appearing judgmental.

Speaking ahead of the episode on MetroNews “Talkline,” Bourdain acknowledged coming into the show with plenty of preconceived notions and stereotypes . He also admitted he quickly realized those needed to be reevaluated.

“We did deliberately seek out one of the poorer counties in the state. We went to coal country and an area that did tend to vote solidly Republican, at least in recent years,” Bourdain said. “I really wanted to go straight at it. I’m well aware the state of West Virginia is totally diverse.”

Bourdain traveled underground in a McDowell County Coal mine. He went off road riding in southern West Virginia and he did some shooting while trying to find some middle ground on the Second Amendment.

“I met people who were kind, who were generous, who looked after each other,” he said. “A lot of people are facing tremendous challenges, but are meeting those challenges with real determination and pride. I keep using the word ‘enchanted’. I was enchanted.”

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