Get a first look at the cover of Bourdain: The Definitive Oral Biography by Laurie Woolever, on sale Sept. 28

By Sam Gillette and Ana Calderone
May 19, 2021 10:00 AM
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Anthony Bourdain
Anthony Bourdain
| Credit: Robin Marchant/Getty

Anthony Bourdain - the beloved chef and TV host who died in June 2018 - is being remembered in a "deeply intimate" oral biography by his longtime assistant and cowriter Laurie Woolever.

Bourdain: The Definitive Oral Biography features almost a hundred interviews with people from the chef's world, including colleagues and dear friends such as Eric Ripert, José Andrés, Nigella Lawson and W. Kamau Bell. Woolever also spoke with Bourdain's 14-year-old daughter, Ariane, his brother, Christopher, and his late mother, Gladys.

PEOPLE has an exclusive first look at the cover of the biography, which will be published by Ecco on Sept. 28.

"Bourdain: The Definitive Oral Biography tells the full story of the man who seemed to have the greatest job, and the greatest life, in the world," Woolever tells PEOPLE in a statement. "The stories, memories and insights shared within it, from Tony's immediate family, childhood friends, college classmates, kitchen colleagues, television partners, and friends he picked up on his journey, will answer questions about who he really was, what motivated him, and how he chose to live his fascinating life."

Anthony Bourdain book
Credit: Ecco

The book includes a number of personal photos and promises to reveal "the many sides of Tony-his motivations, his ambivalence, his vulnerability, his blind spots, and his brilliance," according to the press release.

Raised by his parents, Gladys, an editor for The New York Times, and his late father, Pierre, a music industry executive, in New Jersey, Bourdain yearned for trouble from an early age. He found it after attending the Culinary Institute of America. During the 1980s, Bourdain worked the hard life of a New York City chef while battling drug addiction.

He gave up narcotics in the early '90s and released his New Yorker essay "Don't Eat Before Reading This" in 1999, which led to a book deal and fame. Bourdain became even more of a household name after starring in shows like A Cook's Tour, No Reservations and Parts Unknown in which he traveled the world and celebrated indigenous food.

"I have the best job in the world," Bourdain told PEOPLE. "I decide where we go. If I'm not having a good time, it's nobody's fault, it's a failure of the imagination."

While Bourdain loved his work, he also struggled with loneliness. In the summer of 2018, Bourdain died by suicide at the age of 61. He left behind grieving fans, his girlfriend, actress Asia Argento, and Ariane, whom he shared with his estranged wife Ottavia Busia.

"Tony's thoughts connected with people," David Holloway, Bourdain's longtime photographer, told PEOPLE shortly after the chef's death. "Everyone has a picture and a story. These are real moments, because Tony was honest. People feel an honest loss."

Woolever is ensuring her mentor and friend's legacy continues. Last month, Ecco published the travel guide World Travel: An Irreverent Guide, which Bourdain and Woolever had been writing before his death.

"I was lucky to work closely with Tony for nearly a decade, and I'm so pleased to be able to share his reflections and insights about the world, as he saw it, in this guide," said Woolever in the travel book's press release.

RELATED VIDEO: Chef David Chang On Regret Since Anthony Bourdain's Suicide: 'I Never Asked, Is Everything Okay?'

In October 2018, four months after Bourdain's passing, Woolever reflected back on another book she co-authored with him, Appetites: A Cookbook.

"Two years ago today, this beautiful book was published. I miss @anthonybourdain more and more each day," she captioned a photo of the book on Instagram. "He wasn't perfect but he was the absolute best, and he gave so much to me, and to the people who worked for and with him, and the people who loved his work."

Bourdain: The Definitive Oral Biography hits bookstores this fall.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.