France’s best known chef Paul Bocuse died in France Saturday morning at the age of 91.
“Monsieur Paul,” as many knew him, passed away outside Lyons, in Collonges where his restaurant the Auberge du Pont de Collonges has held three Michelin stars for over half a century.
Bocuse’s death was announced on Twitter by Gérard Collomb, France’s Minister of the Interior and former Mayor of Lyon.
“Monsieur Paul was France,” Collomb wrote in French. “Simplicity & generosity Excellence & Style of living. The pope of food lovers has left us. May our chefs in Lyon, as in all corners of the world, cultivate the fruits of his passion.”
A man who loved teaching, Bocuse was an influence on several generations of chefs worldwide. The Bocuse d’Or, an annual gastronomic competition known as the Oscars of the food world, was named after him.
Born in Collonges in February, 1926, Bocuse always said he “had the luck” to be trained first in the kitchens of La Mere Brazier and Fernand Point, who is considered the father of modern French cooking.
Bocuse always stressed that Point instructed him that anything done in the kitchen was worth doing well and that a chef/owner needed to be attentive to all details in a restaurant — including the glassware, nappery and to visit the dining room at the end of service.
After apprenticeship and a passage at Lucas-Carton in Paris, Bocuse set up his kitchen at the Auberge du Pont de Collognes, earning his first Michelin star in 1958 while still serving meals with steel cutlery on paper plates. His third star arrived in 1965.
He was already a budding international star when Nouvelle Cuisine arrived and embraced him. For decades, Bocuse served as France’s best known food ambassador. While traveling the world with his recipes, he maintained tight control over his restaurant operations, eventually becoming involved with only three outside Lyon: one in Switzerland and a pair of dining spots at Walt Disney World in Florida: Chef’s de France and Monsieur Paul.
In 2011, the Culinary Institute of America named him the Chef of the Century. They further honored him by naming their campus restaurant after him.