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Au revoir et bon appétit bien sûr to the “Chef of the Century” : Joël Robuchon

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6 August 2018… This day will definitely remain engraved in gastronomy’s history! Legendary French Chef Joël Robuchon died from a pancreas cancer closing his eyes on a culinary world that he has loved and shaped with his passion and exigence for food. All around the world, reactions pile up as the culinary circle grieves the “Chef of the Century”. Here’s a small tribute to the Chef that everyone (especialy French people) loved so much!

His Career in a Nutshell

Aiming to be priest at first, his passion for food awakens beside the nuns while he helps them for cooking. He becomes the apprentice of Chef Robert Auton then learns alongside Chef Delaveyne where he gets into La Nouvelle cuisine, an approach to food that emphasizes on light and refined dishes.

His career starts in 1974 as the Chef of the Concorde Lafayette in Paris. From that moment, a legend is born : Meilleur Ouvrier de France (Best Worker of France) in 1976, “Chef of the Century” in 1990, Chef of the best restaurant in the world (Joël Robuchon) in 1994, owner of 32 Michelin Stars etc…

But in 1996 he decides to stop his career as a Chef and turns to TV shows that millions of French people would watch everyday.

In 2003, he comes up with his new concept of restaurant, the Atelier (meaning the workshop) directly inspired by a mix of Spanish and Japanese culture : No reservation here! You’ll sit on high stools behind a counter while enjoying some sophisticated dishes presenting exceptional products. The concept is a huge success and the Atelier appears in Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong, New York, London, Montreal, Shanghai, Singapore etc.. and the list goes on and on.

To this day, Chef Joël Robuchon is the most decorated Chef in the world and owns a giant culinary empire!

The Man behind the stoves

A Split personality from soft to exigeant

Many people knew him as the jovial and cheerful papa (father) that shared recipes everyday with other Chefs on his iconic TV show Bon appétit bien sûr. He was basically part of the French landscape and even if kids didn’t know about the ultra decorated Chef Joël Robuchon, for sure they knew about the gentle cook of France 3 channel.

But, in the kitchens, he was respected for his high level of exigence and perfectionism. Apparently, he could get quite harsh with his disciples, and celebrity Chef Gordon Ramsay can’t say the opposite as he once received a pan of Langoustine Ravioli thrown at him by the Master himself! According to 2 Michelin-starred French Chef Thierry Marx who worked with Chef Robuchon for a while, he “didn’t give any room to hazard. Everything had to be checked and measured to achieve a perfect balance (…). Discipline as a project, that’s how we could describe Joël Robuchon”.

The Innovator

Overall, Joël Robuchon was a revolution in the culinary circle. At a time where haute cuisine‘s dishes were complex, Joël Robuchon decided to go for refined and clean dishes that maximized the flavour of each ingredients.

By the way, do you know why Chefs wear black sometimes? Yes, it’s because of Chef Robuchon! When everyone was wearing white uniforms he decided to go for black ones as it was the colour of elegance. Black clothes and red shoes, that was the Robuchon style in the kitchens.

Heritage, Love that is what cuisine is about

As exigent as he could get he was also extremely generous and loved people. As he said “you can not cook if you don’t love people”. Maybe that’s why he insisted on sharing his passion and his values so much.
If his exigence taught a lot of Grand Chefs of our time, his humanity brought inspiration and passion to the culinary world.

Thank you Joël Robuchon … You have been for all of us (…) a worldwide model, you will remain in our memories, and you will be an example for all of future generations. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU JOEL ROBUCHON … I AM VERY SAD TODAY! FOREVER AND EVER …
Chef Philippe Conticini
We miss a lot this great visionary who was part of our history … He shines now in the firmament of the great Chiefs.
Chef Anne-Sophie Pic
We’ve lost the God Father of Michelin, the most decorated Chef in the World, he kept all of us on our toes! Even when we were sleeping! Merci Chef, God Bless
Chef Gordon Ramsay
Shocked and very sad by the loss of my Mentor Joel Robuchon. The most rigorous, precise, demanding, ultra gifted King of all CHEFS … RIP Monsieur Robuchon
Chef Eric Ripert
Chef, you will forever be cherished and remain an incredible inspiration to all of us in this profession. Thank you for instilling the highest standards of excellence in our profession. Your mentorship will always be remembered and treasured
Chef Daniel Boulud
RIP Chef Joel Robuchon. You changed the whole game. I always thought of you as the Bill Walsh of gastronomy
Chef David Chang
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