“Anthony was a larger than life personality with so much talent and even though he could be incredibly critical of others somehow that was part of his charm,” she tells PEOPLE. “The food entertainment family is just that, a family, and every member has there place and unique personality with a specific place within our family.”
The Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee host says although Bourdain was critical of several Food Network stars, at the end of the day, they all share a close bond.
“We don’t always agree or get along but we stick together and we all truly love and adore one another (like a family) no matter what,” she says. “I am so very sad. He was a really gifted, smart, articulate man and his humor will be missed.”
Bourdain has famously mocked Lee’s baking and cooking on her show, which featured a mix of pre-packaged products and fresh ingredients. “All you have to do is waddle into the kitchen, open a can of crap and spread it on some other crap that you bought at the supermarket. And then you’ve done something really special,” he said in 2009.
Bourdain, 61, was found unresponsive in his hotel room in France on Friday morning by close friend and French chef, Eric Ripert, according to CNN. Both were filming an upcoming episode of Bourdain’s award-winning show on the network, Parts Unknown.
Colmar, France, public prosecutor Christian de Rocquigny du Fayel told PEOPLE that Bourdain died by hanging at a luxury hotel in Kaysersberg called Le Chambard, and said, “at this stage, nothing suggests the intervention of a third party.”
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“It is with extraordinary sadness we can confirm the death of our friend and colleague, Anthony Bourdain,” CNN said in a statement. “His love of great adventure, new friends, fine food and drink and the remarkable stories of the world made him a unique storyteller. His talents never ceased to amaze us and we will miss him very much. Our thoughts and prayers are with his daughter and family at this incredibly difficult time.”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).