How Eric Ripert Is Responsible For Anthony Bourdain Meeting His Wife

By now, just about everyone knows that the late Anthony Bourdain and the award-winning, French-born chef Eric Ripert were friends for 20 years – make that "great friends." They had a friendship, in Ripert's words, "on television and off television” (per "CBS This Morning" on YouTube) that some might call a bromance.

The story goes that Ripert, the chef and co-owner of New York City's Michelin-starred Le Bernardin restaurant, called Bourdain after reading complimentary words about his restaurant and its seafood sourcing in "Kitchen Confidential,” the book that propelled Bourdain to fame, reports Insider. Among his words of praise were, "I never order fish on Monday, unless I'm eating at Le Bernardin — a four-star restaurant where I know they are buying their fish directly from the source."

Ripert invited Bourdain to his restaurant for a meal, and their friendship grew from there. In later years, they hit the road and poked fun at each other – and roasted others in the world of food – on a show called "Good vs. Evil,” according to KQED. Their bond went beyond food and laughter, even beyond the bounds of their own friendship in a way. Off the stage and off the television, Ripert played a part in introducing Bourdain to his second wife, the Italian-born Ottavia Busia.

Eric Ripert introduced Anthony Bourdain to Ottavia Busia

When she came to the United States, Busia settled in New York City and worked a succession of restaurant jobs, including stints at several of Eric Ripert's restaurants (per The New Yorker). Both Bourdain and Busia were workaholics – the traveling TV host reportedly logged just 20 weeks a year at home – but Ripert reportedly thought they might find time for a fling and set them up. As it turned out, it was what Ripert called a "coup de foudre," or love at first sight (per The New York Times).

Bourdain had been single for a couple of years – he and his first wife, Nancy Putkoski, divorced in 2005 after 20 years of marriage. After Ripert played matchmaker, a relationship progressed quickly between Busia and the "Kitchen Confidential” author and "Parts Unknown” host. After just a few dates, they got matching tattoos (a chef's knife for each). Then, within a short span of time in 2007, Bourdain became a father to his daughter Ariane and exchanged vows with the new mom, Busia.

Busia and Bourdain separated in 2016. In "Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain,” Busia notes that she wasn't expecting a long-term relationship with Bourdain, let alone marriage (per Culture Mix). "We were the perfect match for the occasional rendezvous,” she says in the film. "I was expecting this bad boy, a little bit arrogant. Nowhere was I expecting endearing."