January 22, 2018
Paul Bocuse, perhaps the most well-known contemporary French chef, passed away last Saturday at the age of 91. Monsieur Paul, as so many used to call him, was among the key figures in the creation of French nouvelle cuisine.
Bocuse began cooking when he was 15 and won his first Michelin star in 1958 (his second in 1960, third in 1965). He was named Chef of the Century by the prominent Gault Millau restaurant guide in 1987 and again in 2011.
His restaurant, the Auberge du Pont de Collonges, near Lyon, has now held its three Michelin stars for half century. Bocuse was most famous for iconic dishes like his much-imitated fillet of red mullet covered in playful potato “scales,” and his truffle soup V.G.E., (named after the French president Valéry Giscard D’Estaing) comprised of truffles and foie gras in a chicken broth cooked in a dish covered in puff pastry. Although Bocuse was associated in the early 1970s with the rise of nouvelle cuisine, he later dissociated himself from that movement, saying it represented “not enough on your plate and too much on your bill”.
“His name alone summed up French gastronomy in its generosity, its respect for tradition but also its inventiveness,” – Emmanuel Macron.
More than a just a chef, Paul Bocuse was the incarnation of French gastronomy. He owned several Gourmet restaurants and Brasserie, opened an application restaurant in Shanghai and two culinary schools in Lyon. In 2004, he created the Institut Paul Bocuse Worldwide Alliance which in 2014,brought together students of 14 nationalities for a course in Lyon school and university.
He felt the mission was to share and transmit the passion and the knowledge to the next generations. He said “It is our duty to give meaning to the life of future generations by sharing our knowledge and experience; by teaching an appreciation of work well done and a respect for nature, the source of all life; by encouraging the young to venture off the beaten path and avoid complacency by challenging their emotions.”
“Paul Bocuse. A hero to me from my earliest days as a cook. A great, great chef who was very kind to me. To have spent time with him was an honor and a dream come true. Rest In Peace.” – Anthony Bourdain
Besides his several Michelin Stars, Paul Bocuse was awarded by countless distinctions during his life: Meilleur ouvrier de France in 1961, Commander of the French Legion of Honor in 2004 and Grand Officer of the National Order of Merit and many more.
In the early 1980s, the Walt Disney Company invited him to create restaurants for the French pavilion at Epcot Center (now Walt Disney World) in Orlando, Fla. With Gaston Lenôtre and Roger Vergé, he developed Les Chefs de France restaurant, which is now operated by his son, Jérôme, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America.
In 1987, he launched what has become a prestigious international gastronomy contest, the Bocuse d’Or, in which chefs from around the world compete to create the best dishes.
He was the author of several cookbooks and founder of the Bocuse d’Or, the international culinary competition in which teams from different countries create extravagant platters in front of a live audience.
“I work as if I will live a hundred years and I enjoy life as if each day was the last,” Paul Bocuse.
Au Revoir Monsieur Paul.
“Chef Paul Bocuse changed our lives and the lives of millions. He set the example for chefs and restauranteurs. He helped us understand the importance of evolution, teaching, mentoring, sharing, and building meaningful relationships.” – Thomas Keller