It’s been six months since Anthony Bourdain died by suicide, and those closest to him are still coming to grips with the enormity of that loss.
In a candid new piece for GQ Magazine, those in Bourdain’s inner circle — including his brother, Chris — are sharing their memories of his life, legacy, and how they’ve been surviving in the aftermath of his passing.
One such account comes from Big Gay Ice Cream co-owner Doug Quint, who spoke about Bourdain’s relationship with his 11-year-old daughter, Ariane, whom he shared with his estranged wife Ottavia Busia. He recalled staying with Bourdain at a rental house in the Hamptons, New York roughly six years ago, when Ariane was around 5.
“She came and tapped on Ottavia’s arm and whispered to her, and Ottavia said, ‘Oh, she’s going to do her song,’ ” Quint recalled of Ariane. “And I said, ‘What does that mean?’ And Tony said, ‘Don’t ask. Just watch.’ ”
“Ottavia took her phone and cued up ‘Call Me Maybe,’ and Ariane came out from behind the wall and lip-synched and acted the whole thing out. Picking up a phone and fake calling into a phone, and it was just the most f—in’ adorable thing I’d ever seen,” Quint recounted. “I remember looking over at Tony, and he just stared at her with this look on his face like, just he was seeing perfection and couldn’t believe it had come out of him, you know? It’s exactly what you want to see in a parent’s eyes when they look at their kid. I sometimes didn’t like Tony, but I always loved Tony, and there was a lot to love when I saw that look come out at her.”
Years later, Quint would find himself with Ariane, mourning the loss of her dad.
He had gotten a call from Busia informing him of Bourdain’s death in June. “I heard my phone going off in the middle of the night, and it was a text from Ottavia saying, ‘He’s killed himself, and I wanted you to know before the news came out,’ ” Quint told GQ. “I [drove] to O’Hare and went to their house. The whole morning, I was sitting head down, making sure I didn’t look at the TV. It’s just so f—in’ lousy. It feels like you’re speeding into a black hole.”
“That day, Ariane said to me something like, ‘Is this something that people outside of New York are gonna know about?’ ” Quint continued. “And we were like, ‘Yeah. All around the world, people are sad about this.’ Telling her that made me realize, Jesus, God, this is world news. He changed lives around the world.”
Quint previously opened up about how he witnessed “the best mothering imaginable” from Busia, a MMA fighter, following Bourdain’s death.
“For five weeks I have watched my best friend display more poise and grace than I could ever imagine, in the face of a global publicity s–t-storm,” he tweeted. “This whole f–king thing sucks so horribly and it always will but I discovered she’s not just my best friend. Ottavia is my idol.”
Bourdain died on June 8 at the age of 61 in France while filming his CNN show Parts Unknown. Though he and Busia had separated in 2016 after nine years of marriage, they had never formally divorced.
“My wife and I live, have lived, very separate lives for years,” he told PEOPLE at the time of their split. “There’s no drama here. We get along really, really well and it’s not a big lifestyle change happening here.”
In his will, which was written in 2016 and revealed in July, Bourdain left the majority of his finances to Ariane. Busia was named the executor of his estate.
Elsewhere in the GQ piece, Bourdain’s friends opened up about how they’ve changed after his death.
Fred Morin, co-owner of Joe Beef, said that he’s stopped drinking. “I decided to put the bottle down. About 73 days,” he told GQ correspondent Drew Magary.
“I’ve stopped drinking as a part of this whole thing, too,” added director Morgan Fallon, who worked with Bourdain on Parts Unknown.
Philippe Lajaunie—the owner of Les Halles, where Bourdain had been executive chef before his career in television took off— said that Bourdain’s loss inspired him to check an item off his bucket list. “I’m moving to Vietnam,” he said. “I think it’s time for me to do it.”
As for talking about the pain they feel around Bourdain’s death, Fallon had a poignant outlook.
“People have said to me, ‘Well, you probably don’t wanna talk about that.’ I feel exactly the opposite,” he explained to GQ.” I want to talk about Tony. I want to make sure that people understand and know that that was the real deal, man. That was a singular, brilliant, magnificent human being.”