"Tony was the smartest, funniest of friends, perpetually curious and endlessly charming," Zimmern says.
Bourdain, 61, died of apparent suicide in his hotel room on Friday morning in France, where he was filming Parts Unknown alongside his friend chef Eric Ripert, who discovered his body.
“I’m so angry this morning. Life is f—— hard and crazy and Tony I love you,” Zimmern posted on Twitter with a picture of Bourdain’s beige boots. “I’m wearing your boots that I never wore because they were yours, and going to work. Everyone should hug some extra people today. My heart is heavy.”
Zimmern tells PEOPLE he had much in common with Bourdain.
“Not the least of which was the shared mission to learn about cultures around the world through food,” Zimmern said to PEOPLE. “Tony was the smartest, funniest of friends, perpetually curious and endlessly charming. There were few people with whom I shared more of myself with and I always relied on his sagacity and insight as a great barometer of whatever my next move would be.”
“Tony’s life has been endlessly chronicled and he was recently blessed with and lightened by a new love, making it all the more difficult to reconcile this devastating loss. My heart and profound condolences go out to Tony’s family, the three wonderful women in his life, especially his amazing daughter.”
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Zimmern, who says he has also dealt with his own mental health issues, revealed Bourdain was an “incredible sounding board” in his life.
“I only wish a different ending could have been written for one of the world’s most gifted storytellers. Out of respect for all of his friends and family I think it best to leave it there for now and let’s remember all the joy he brought us over the years. I will miss him very much.”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).