In the wake of Anthony Bourdain‘s death, the American chef’s friends and colleagues are reflecting on his final days.
“He was normal, normal. Just like himself,” chef Jean-Yves Schillinger tells PEOPLE exclusively.
The chef, 55, entertained Bourdain and French chef Eric Ripert at his Michelin two-star restaurant JY’S in Colmar, France, on Tuesday, participating in an on-camera conversation for Bourdain’s Parts Unknown.
“I didn’t see anything unusual,” Schillinger says.
However, in an interview with the New York Times, Bourdain’s mother Gladys said Ripert told her that “Tony had been in a dark mood these past couple of days.” Gladys also said she had no indication that her son was thinking about suicide.
On Friday, Bourdain, 61, was found unresponsive in his hotel room in Kaysersberg, France, by his close friend Ripert, according to CNN. Both were filming an upcoming episode of Parts Unknown, which featured Ripert introducing Bourdain to some of the best restaurants, vineyards and artisans along the French-German border.
A police spokesperson in Strasbourg, France, confirmed Bourdain’s death to PEOPLE on Friday but would not confirm the cause of death. The manner of death was classified as a suicide.
Although Schillinger explained he hadn’t seen Bourdain in a couple of years, he knew the late chef and TV host from Les Halles, Bourdain’s former restaurant in New York.
“It was a long time that I hadn’t seen him. I knew him from his restaurant in New York and when he arrived here Tuesday. It was just like he always was. He was very professional, just as always,” he explains to PEOPLE.
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Following the two-hour shoot at his restaurant, Schillinger accompanied Bourdain and Ripert to a nearby beer garden in Germany.
“We went to the beer garden in Freiburg together and we were just talking, talking, talking about everything for two hours,” he tells PEOPLE. “In Germany, I was surprised because he was very well known there. People recognized him, came over, asked for an autograph, for selfies. It was surprising because in France, no chefs, the public don’t know him, but in Germany, his show is very popular and many people know him.”
“He was okay, he was like he was on television,” Schillinger continues. “I could never have imagined that one, two days later he would be dead.”
Reflecting on Bourdain’s legacy, Schillinger tells PEOPLE, “He wasn’t a three-star chef, but he did make food accessible to people and that’s something.”
Christine Speisser, who is the only woman in France to hold the title of Master Butcher/Caterer, tells PEOPLE she was scheduled to film for Parts Unknown on Friday morning, when Bourdain was discovered in his hotel room.
According to Speisser, the television crew had everything set up at the outdoor market in Strasbourg’s Place Broglie — where she was to show Bourdain around — and was ready for Bourdain and Ripert to arrive around 10 a.m.
“For me, it was something exceptional,” she tells PEOPLE. “It was an honor to receive chef Bourdain.”
“People knew he was coming to the market and everything was in place, ready to film,” she continues, adding that a production assistant arrived and said “there’s a big problem.”
“It was like they were all struck by lightning. They all just sat on the ground,” Speisser adds, describing the mood among the crew.
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“They didn’t say what was happening, they probably didn’t know everything,” says Speisser’s friend Christelle Schenck, 36, who had come to help out with the filming.
After waiting for an hour, the team packed up and departed without a clear explanation.
“Apparently they need to cancel, we were told. They said we’ll call you back,” Schenck adds.
Speaking with PEOPLE, French prosecutor Christian de Rocquigny said there was no evidence of foul play or violence in the chef and TV host’s death.
“Nothing suggested the involvement of a third person,” Rocquigny told PEOPLE.
A medical expert did not find any signs of violence on Bourdain’s body and toxicology tests are being performed, the AP reported.
Rocquigny explained to PEOPLE that “an autopsy is the priority” as police in Colmar continue investigating Bourdain’s death.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “help” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.