The reported death of CNN travel host Anthony Bourdain sent shockwaves on Friday through the Provincetown restaurant scene, where Bourdain first got his start in the business decades ago.
“He was really trying to connect food to people in a wonderful kind of way,” said John Yingling, a Provincetown restaurant owner who knew Bourdain for about 40 years. “He went around the world, trying to make people get along better. He was doing a good thing.”
Bourdain, who was 61, died in a hotel room in France, where he was filming an episode of his CNN series “Parts Unknown,” the network reported Friday morning. Bourdain killed himself, CNN said.
“It is with extraordinary sadness we can confirm the death of our friend and colleague,” CNN said in a statement.
Bourdain told the Globe in 2012 that he got his start in Provincetown as a restaurant dishwasher to pay the rent of a house he shared with friends, and “fell in love with the whole business and the whole subculture.”
Bourdain spent decades working as a line cook in restaurants in New York and the Northeast, before he became executive chef in the 1990s at Brasserie Les Halles, serving steak frites and French onion soup in lower Manhattan.
His unsolicited article to The New Yorker about the restaurant world caught the attention of book editors and resulted in his memoir “Kitchen Confidential,” which launched his television career.
“I love nothing more than the feeling of being in a city where I don’t speak the language, can’t read the signs, don’t really know what it is that they are eating,” Bourdain told the Globe in 2012.
Yingling, 69, has known Bourdain ever since he walked into Yingling’s Spiritus Pizza in Provincetown while Boudain was dating one of Yingling’s employees, Yingling told the Globe Friday.
Even then, Yingling said Bourdain’s intelligence and kindness stood out: Decades later, Bourdain would remember little details of friends’ lives and the experiences they shared together, he said.
“He wasn’t the guy who became famous and forgot his friends. He remembered his friends,” said Yingling, who was shocked by Bourdain’s death. “I’m very sorry for him, and his family.”
Bourdain would later film a 2014 segment of his “Parts Unknown” series at Yingling’s Spiritus Pizza.
Yingling said it wasn’t surprising to him that Bourdain could make the jump from kitchen to television.
“He took what he knew and turned it into something else — that’s how smart he was,” Yingling said.
The same 2014 episode of Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown” also featured the Shady Glen Diner in Turner Falls, which Charles Garbiel has owned for about six years.
When producers for Bourdain’s show first contacted him in the spring of 2014 about filming, they told him they wanted to showcase longtime local restaurants, and wanted to include an “old, rustic diner” in the broadcast, Garbiel said in an interview Friday.
Bourdain’s crew spent a day filming at the diner in 2014, and the host himself showed up in the afternoon — but instead of talking shop, Bourdain and Garbiel talked about mixed martial arts.
Garbiel’s diner has photos from his days competing in tournaments, and Bourdain noticed the pictures, and correctly guessed Garbiel’s fighting style (muay thai, a form of kickboxing), Garbiel said.
Garbiel remembered he and Bourdain spent about 40 minutes talking about fighting before getting to down to work.
Garbiel said he was saddened to see reports that Bourdain had died, and that other restaurant owners won’t have a chance to work with him.
“It’s a loss to not have that opportunity anymore. I’m grateful that he came,” Garbiel said.
Tim McNulty, owner of The Lobster Pot in Provincetown, met Bourdain when the host was filming in the restaurant’s dining room in 2014.
McNulty recalled the thrill it was to have Bourdain at his restaurant -- McNulty had read Bourdain’s book, and saw some of his own life in the memoir.
“What [Bourdain] did have was the restaurant experience: He was like me, a lifer,” McNulty said. “He started as a dishwasher and worked his way up. He was the real deal.”
Cindy Quinn, owner of Greenhills Irish Bakery in Dorchester, remembered Bourdain visit to her shop in 2011 for his “No Reservations” series on the Travel Channel.
Since then, Quinn’s bakery has become something of a landmark for travelers, including a group from California who spotted the bakery on television, she said Friday.
Bourdain was authentic on air, which was part of his appeal, she said.
“People really believed him,” Quinn said.Material from the New York Times was used in this report. John Hilliard can be reached at email@example.com.