Top French chef Paul Bocuse dies aged 91

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French president leads tributes, saying ‘chefs are crying in their kitchens at the Elysée and everywhere in France’

Paul Bocuse, the Michelin-starred chef and celebrated master of haute cuisine, died in France on Saturday.

Bocuse, 91, was one of the leading exponents of the 1970s culinary trend of nouvelle cuisine. His restaurant has held three Michelin stars continuously for more than 50 years.

Tributes to the man variously described as “Monsieur Paul”, the “chef of the century” and the “Pope of gastronomes” poured in after his death was announced.

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, described Bocuse as “the incarnation of French cuisine”.

“His name alone sums up French gastronomy; his generosity, his respect for traditions but also his innovation,” Macron said.

“Today French gastronomy has lost a legendary figure who transformed it profoundly. Chefs are crying in their kitchens at the Elysée and everywhere in France. But they will carry on his work.”

Bocuse reportedly died in his sleep in the same room in which he was born in February 1926 at his family home at Collonges-au-Mont-d’Or, north of Lyon. His family had worked as chefs since the 17th century, and Paul Bocuse maintained the tradition.

“I’m lost when I leave here,” he told Le Point magazine in 2013. “If I spend the night in another bed, to find my bearings I have to sleep with the Saône [river] to my left.”

During the war he served as a volunteer in Gen de Gaulle’s Free French Army and was injured in Alsace in eastern France, earning the Croix de Guerre decoration. After the war, he began his apprenticeship with Eugénie Brazier, known as “Mother Brazier”, one of the first chefs to win the coveted Michelin three stars.

Bocuse obtained his first star in 1958, and a second two years later, after transforming his family-run establishment, L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges, which became a temple to French cuisine and has held three Michelin stars since 1965. At the time of his death, he had nine restaurants in and around the city of Lyon and several abroad, including in Japan, the US and Switzerland.

“Bocuse’s style? In a word: constant. An eternal marriage-à-trois between cream, butter and wine,” wrote Le Point on Saturday.

Bocuse admitted he liked keeping his dishes simple and traditional, like a pot-au-feu or boeuf bourguignon and avoided fussy cooking and “peas that are cut in quarters”.

“That’s the best cooking. You don’t change a recipe that works,” Bocuse said, adding that he owed his long and celebrated career to hard work.

“To stay at the top, there’s no surprise: the golden rule is work, more work and always work … I work as if I’m going to live for a hundred years and enjoy life as if each day is the last.”

On Saturday, the French interior minister Gérard Collomb, mayor of Lyon for 16 years before appointed to his cabinet job, tweeted: “Paul Bocuse is dead. Gastronomy is in mourning.

“Mr Paul was France. Simplicity and generosity. Excellence and the art of living. The pope of gastronomes leaves us. May our chefs, in Lyon, as in the four corners of the world, long cultivate the fruits of his passion.”

Image: Wikipedia

Source: The Guardian

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