Gladys Bourdain, the mother of late chef Anthony Bourdain, died Friday at the age of 85. News of her death was confirmed by her only surviving son, Christopher, who told the New York Times that Bourdain passed away on Jan. 10 at a hospice facility in New York City. Her death comes just 19 months after her son’s.
Bourdain worked at the Times for 24 years, starting in 1984 and working as a copy editor until 2008, and proved to play an instrumental role in her son's career as a culinary storyteller. In the Times obituary, the story of how she helped Anthony get his article "Don't Eat Before Reading This" published in The New Yorker in 1999 is recounted. The article almost immediately lead to a deal for his bestselling book Kitchen Confidential and helped launch his career in TV.
"She came over, and she said, 'You know, your husband's got this new job,'" Times reporter Esther Fein recalled. "I hate to sound like a pushy mom, but I'm telling you this with my editor's hat on, not my mother’s hat on. It's really good, and it’s really interesting, but nobody will look at it, nobody will call him back or give it a second look. Could you put it in your husband’s hands?'"
The article was published in The New Yorker in April 1999, with Anthony landing a book deal just days later. After its publishing, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly became a New York Times bestseller, Anthony later going on to host the award-winning TV programs No Reservations and Parts Unknown.
In the wake of her death, tributes from her her former Times colleagues are pouring in on social media.
"Gladys Bourdain was a tough copy editor and I was always incredibly grateful for her careful and pointed questions about my stories. RIP," Times alum Lydia Polgreen tweeted.
"I sat near Gladys for several years on the Metro Copy Desk, and she always made sure we ordered good takeout," editor Patrick LaForge wrote.
Born Gladys Sacksman on Oct. 19, 1934 in Manhattan, New York, Bourdain is survived by her son Christopher and three grandchildren, including her late son's daughter, Ariane. Her passing comes just a year and a half after Anthony's death at the age of 61.