Vale legendary Joël Robuchon. Named 'Chef of the Century'by Gault&Millau, Robuchon built up a global restaurant empire that revolutionised fine dining across three continents.
Joël Robuchon, awarded 'Chef of the Century' by Gault & Millau in 1990, passed away yesterday, the 6th of August, at the age of 73 years. According to Le Figaro newspaper, he died of cancer in the Swiss city of Geneva.
Joël Robuchon and his team at the L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Saint-Germain, Paris
Robuchon founded a string of restaurants that revolutionised fine dining across three continents. From Tokyo to Paris and Macau, foodies queue up for seats in his L'Atelier restaurants, where they can watch chefs in action, perched on high stools at a U-shaped bar.
His death was confirmed by the French government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux in a tweet. "Joël Robuchon, a visionary chef who was the most starred in the world, leaves us today. From Paris to Shanghai, his savoir-faire was an art form that made French gastronomy shine and continues to inspire the next generation of chefs," Griveaux wrote.
Born in 1945 in the central city of Poitiers to a bricklayer father and stay-at-home mother, his first vocation was the priesthood. But while cooking alongside nuns for other seminarians, Joël discovered a passion for food and at 15, he entered the restaurant trade.
A perfectionist from the start, he quickly earned a name for himself in the rarefied world of nouvelle cuisine and by the age of 30 was running a 90-strong kitchen at the Concorde Lafayette hotel in Paris. His signature creations included truffle tart, cauliflower cream with caviar and lobster ravioli - but he also elevated the humble potato, with his smooth, buttery mash earning rave reviews.
The accolades - and awards - came thick and fast, but by the age of 51, he had worked himself to the bone. In 1981, Robuchon opened his first restaurant, Jasmin, in Paris. Throughout the history of Gault&Millau French guide, Jasmin won many hats, including "Best Meal of the Year" in the 1983 French edition.
In 1976, Robuchon won the Meilleur Ouvrier de France (Best Craftsman in France), a prestigious French award, for his craftsmanship in Culinary Arts.
Declaring he did not want to die of the stress of turning out flawless fare day after day, the father of two announced his retirement in 1996. From there it was a short hop to the television studios where Robuchon spent the next few years hosting a popular daily food show that aimed to demystify haute cuisine for the masses.
However, by 2003, he was back in the kitchen with the Atelier concept, which he debuted in Paris and Tokyo and later took to London, Las Vegas and New York, among other cities - there are currently 12 branches of L'Atelier worldwide. Inspired by Japanese sushi counters - Robuchon nurtured a lifelong fascination with Japan - and Spanish tapas bars, he intended the restaurants to be more relaxed and accessible than traditional three-star eateries.