Ottavia Busia-Bourdain: What the internet won’t tell you about her

Ottavia Busia was born on July 11, 1965, in Sardinia, Italy. She is a businesswoman and a mixed martial artist, but she is best known as the late celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain’s wife. He had been missing for two years before he was discovered dead, having committed suicide.

Ottavia Busia’s Net Worth

Ottavia Busia’s net worth is estimated to be more than $1 million, with her business ventures contributing significantly to her fortune. She also most likely benefited from her husband’s success during their marriage.

Bourdain’s net worth was once estimated to be more than $16 million, but at the time of his death, it had apparently shrunk to around $1.2 million.

Life and Work

Ottavia was born on the island of Sardinia, but her family relocated to Lombardy, where she grew up. She was initially interested in pursuing a career in dentistry and was even studying for it during college. She did, however, follow a rock band to the United States after falling in love with them.

She needed to find work in a New York City restaurant after moving to the United States. This launched her career in the field, and she worked in several restaurants before landing a job at Geisha. She worked her way up to become general manager, and it was around this time that she met Anthony Bourdain.

She later began practicing mixed martial arts for self-defense and to help develop her body, especially after going through pregnancy. She is well-known for her dedication to Brazilian jujitsu. She then went on to manage restaurant businesses as a career.

Anthony Bourdain is her husband.

Anthony W was born on June 25, 1956, in New York City, USA, of Jewish descent, but his family was non-religious, not adhering to a single religion. His father was a salesman who later became a record executive, and his mother was a journalist.

Ottavia Busia-Bourdain and Anthony Bourdain

He spent most of his childhood in New Jersey, but during a vacation in France, he developed a strong interest in food. He went to Dwight-Englewood School and then to Vassar College after graduating. He did not, however, complete his education, instead dropping out to work in seafood restaurants.

He enrolled in The Culinary Institute of America in 1978, wanting to pursue a full-time career in the food industry. From there, he worked in several New York City restaurants, eventually becoming the executive chef at Brasserie Les Halles two decades later, a position he held for many years and with which he maintained a relationship long after he left.

In the following years, he rose to prominence as the author of bestselling books such as “Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly” and “A Cook’s Tour.” 

He combined his love of food with another passion: traveling around the world.

The Late Career of Anthony Bourdain

Bourdain’s first television series, titled “A Cook’s Tour,” debuted on the Food Network in 2002 and 2003. In the show, he traveled to various countries and cities around the world to sample the cuisine and culture. Several years later, other networks recognized his potential as a travel and food host, and he was hired by Travel Channel to co-host a show called “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations.” The seven-year-long series followed a similar format to “A Cook’s Tour.”

He also hosted “The Layover,” a travel and food show for the network. The series focused on what a traveler could do and eat in a specific city in 24-48 hours. Singapore, Taipei, Paris, Dublin, and Atlanta were among the cities he visited. He joined the show “The Taste” as a judge in 2013, and stayed for three years before it was cancelled. He then moved to CNN to work on “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown,” which followed a similar format but featured lesser-known locations than his previous shows.

Private Life

Busia and Bourdain had a 22-year age difference, but that didn’t stop them from becoming close after meeting in New York. She met him through a mutual friend, Eric Ripert, who was also working at the Geisha restaurant at the time. Early in their relationship, the two got matching tattoos; they married in 2007 and have a daughter, Ariane.

In 2016, reports surfaced that their marriage was deteriorating, allegedly due to Bourdain’s extensive travel schedule, which saw him away from home for approximately 250 days per year.

He didn’t spend much time with his family, which strained their relationship. The camera crew also captured some of the drama, which caused Bourdain frustration. They split up in 2016, but never divorced before he was discovered dead in the apartment he was staying in while in France two years later. He was on his way to film episodes for “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” at the time.

Anthony Bourdain was drawn to the unusual, whether it was a travel destination, a dish, or his way of life. This was true of his romantic stories as well. According to Delish, he married his high school sweetheart, Nancy Putkoski, first. They had been together for over two decades. They became estranged after Bourdain rose to prominence in the food industry. The chef once told the New Yorker, “I had the impression that the entire world was opening up to me. I’d witnessed things. I’d smelled a few things. I was desperate for more. And she saw everything as a cancer.”

Following that, he met Ottavia Busia via another chef, Éric Ripert. Ripert, believe it or not, was convinced that the two would get along. His predictions came true, and she ended up dating Bourdain. Despite having a 22-year age difference, they got along extremely well from the start of their courtship. Busia-Bourdain was working as the general manager of a New York restaurant called Geisha at the time.

Ottavia Busia-Bourdain’s Career Path was Unusual

Ottavia Busia-Bourdain had no idea she’d end up making a life for herself in the United States. According to the New York Times, she was raised in Italy and led a comfortable life there. She stated, “I had a wonderful time in Italy. I was raised in a small town in Lombardy. I was pursuing a career as a dentist.”

Her plans were disrupted when she fell in love with an Irish musician. In the year 2000, she relocated to the United States to be with him. The move was initially difficult because her English skills were limited and she had only $300 when she began her journey. But she wasn’t scared. She was determined to work and worked at Sette MoMA, Café des Artistes, and Le Bernardin before landing the job at Geisha, a Japanese restaurant. Éric Ripert, a consulting chef for the restaurant, met her there before convincing her to meet Bourdain.

She became friends with Bourdain through her work.
Getty Images/Taylor Hill
Per Being married to a chef, the fact that Anthony Bourdain understood the food industry was particularly appealing to Ottavia Busia-Bourdain. She stated, “Working in the restaurant industry is undoubtedly what brought us together. We used to get together after my shift ended and stay up for hours drinking beers and talking about my day at work.”

She went on to say that their conversations would have been boring for anyone else, but Bourdain enjoyed listening to Busia-Bourdain because he would inadvertently relive his own memories through her anecdotes.

They shared several habits that initially strengthened their bond: partying, smoking, eating good food, and drinking.

They were in love and didn’t hesitate to make it official, even getting matching tattoos early on in their relationship. They were also known for not taking themselves seriously. According to Busia-Bourdain, “We make a lot of fun of each other. I say exactly what I want. People either like it or dislike it, but I don’t mind “She told the New York Times about it.

According to People, they had a child in 2007 and decided to marry the following year.

In 2012, Anthony Bourdain and Ottavia Busia-Bourdain made headlines when the latter ate a steak in Las Vegas that left her feeling absolutely horrified. She didn’t mince words when she declared that the steak in question was “the worst steak” she’d ever tried (via Grub Street.) She stated, “It appears to be boiled. When I cut into it, it’s hard and gray on the inside; it’s well done.” If she had to make a comparison, she would mention meat purchased from a supermarket and carelessly defrosted in a hurry under a sink.

According to Eater, the chef who was responsible for the bad experience later apologized. “It is always a downer to hear something like this, particularly when it concerns the wife of a colleague,” chef Charlie Palmer admitted. He added that he wished the dish had been “sent back” so that his staff members could have immediately corrected the error. Bourdain thanked Palmer and described him as “a gracious man and a great chef.”

Mixed martial arts is Busia-true Bourdain’s passion.

Discovering the world of mixed martial arts was a blessing in disguise for Ottavia Busia-Bourdain. According to the New York Times, she was inspired by popular mixed martial arts expert Gina Carano and was unsure what she was getting into before beginning regular training. She became “hooked” on the sport after giving it a shot.

Ottavia Busia-Bourdain

She trained in martial arts at the Renzo Gracie Academy and competed in jiu-jitsu tournaments. It was an excellent outlet for her, allowing her to freely express herself and release her pent-up emotions. Her passion for jiu-jitsu changed her life: she quit smoking, drank less alcohol, and adopted a healthier lifestyle. Her enthusiasm for the sport was contagious, and before she knew it, Anthony Bourdain was training as well (via Cheatsheet.) He remained devoted to the sport even after he and Ottavia Busia-Bourdain decided to divorce.

Anthony Bourdain and Ottavia Busia-Bourdain split up.

According to People, Anthony Bourdain’s extremely busy work schedule hampered his relationship with Ottavia Busia-Bourdain. After being together for nine years, they decided to date other people. Ottavia Busia-Bourdain said of her ex-attitude husband’s toward marriage, “It seemed like what he wanted was this idyllic picture of family and ordinary life, but when he got it, I’m not sure if he was satisfied… I’m not sure. Maybe that wasn’t enough after a while.”

Anthony Bourdain began dating actress Asia Argento in 2017. Busia-Bourdain felt that her ex had changed over time and was no longer who he used to be. But because she knew he was seeing a therapist, she decided to “take a step back,” which she now regrets. She stated, “That is something I believe I will always be… I should have kept a closer eye on him.”

Busia-Bourdain, on the other hand, is grateful for the incredible memories she has with Bourdain.

She is also pleased with their daughter. “I am so lucky,” she said, “because she is the best daughter I could ask for.” Ottavia Busia-Bourdain is interviewed in the documentary “Roadrunner” about her former husband’s life, but she says it will most likely be the last time she speaks publicly about him.

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