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

David Chang says the loss helped push him to write his new memoir, Eat a Peach

One of the reasons David Chang finally decided to write his new memoir, Eat a Peach, excerpted in this week's PEOPLE, was his friend and fellow chef Anthony Bourdain's 2018 death by suicide.

"I think about the last years of Tony's life. I never asked him, 'Is everything okay, Tony? Can I do anything for you?' " he says. "The signs were there."

Chang hopes that Eat a Peach, where he writes about battling bipolar I disorder for the first time, will encourage conversation about mental health struggles and suicide.

"It wasn’t supposed to happen to him," he says. "That was supposed to happen to me. He was supposed to hold it together for all of us.”

David chang and Anthony bourdain

“All I know is it happened to Tony with all he had going for him,” continues the Momofuku founder. “It could happen to anybody.”

  • For more of David Chang’s story and an exclusive excerpt of his book Eat a Peach, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

Chang had last seen Bourdain in April 2017 at a restaurant in New York City when Chang was feeling particularly down after the closing of his food magazine, Lucky Peach. He writes that after a few drinks, a lot of fried food, and some much-needed venting, Bourdain sent him an email on the car ride home:

"Be a fool. For love. For yourself. What you think MIGHT possibly make you happy. Even for a little while. Whatever the cost or good sense might dictate. Good to see you. Tony."

"He knew I was f------ out of my mind. He knew," Chang tells PEOPLE, laughing. "I think the more he spent time with me, the more he realized, I can have these conversations with Chang because I need to help him."

If you or someone you know needs mental health resources or help, text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.

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