Paul Bocuse, Celebrated French Chef, Dies at 91

“Certainly he did more than any other chef in the world that I can think of to bring the chefs in the dining room and to make the profession respectable and to make us who we are now,” Mr. Pépin mentioned in 2011, when Mr. Bocuse was named “chef of the century” by the Culinary Institute of America. “Now the chefs are stars and it’s because of Paul Bocuse. We are indebted to him for them.”

Paul Bocuse was born on Feb. 11, 1926, in Collonges-au-Mont-d’Or, the place his forebears had been cooking and serving meals for seven generations. At the age of eight, he made his first critical dish, veal kidneys with puréed potatoes, and as an adolescent he started an apprenticeship at a neighborhood restaurant. The coaching was interrupted by World War II, nevertheless, when he was assigned to a Vichy authorities youth camp and put to work in its canteen and slaughterhouse. In 1944, he joined the first Free French Division and was wounded in fight in Alsace. He obtained the Croix de Guerre.

After the struggle, he resumed his apprenticeship at the restaurant, La Mère Brazier in Le Col de la Luère, exterior Lyon. Like its twin in Lyon, it was owned by the legendary Eugénie Brazier and had achieved three Michelin stars by serving impeccable renditions of regional classics.

After a quick stint at the three-star Lucas Carton in Paris, the place he labored alongside the brothers Pierre and Jean Troisgros, Mr. Bocuse spent eight years underneath Point at La Pyramide in Vienne, close to Lyon. “Back then a lot of restaurants were doing the same kind of old-fashioned Escoffier-style cooking, with lots of sauces hiding the ingredients, and the same dishes night after night,” Mr. Bocuse informed The New York Times in 2007. “Point was a perfectionist who gave value and credibility to the finest ingredients.”

In 1956, Mr. Bocuse returned to the household restaurant, the Auberge du Pont de Collonges, which earned its first Michelin star two years later. Despite the paper tablecloths and stainless-steel cutlery, a second star was awarded in 1960.

President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing awarded Mr. Bocuse with the French Legion of Honor in Paris in 1975.

Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In 1966, a 12 months after the restaurant earned its third star, Mr. Bocuse purchased again the previous household restaurant that his grandfather, in straitened circumstances, had bought in 1921 together with the rights to the Bocuse identify. He renamed the constructing, which as soon as belonged to an order of monks, the Abbaye de Collonges and transformed it right into a banquet corridor. He additionally hoisted a four-foot neon “Paul Bocuse” signal atop his restaurant.

The groundswell for nouvelle delicacies reworked Mr. Bocuse into the worldwide face of French cooking. He appeared on the duvet of The New York Times Magazine in 1972. In 1975, resplendent in chef whites and toque, he appeared out from the duvet of Newsweek underneath the banner headline “Food: The New Wave.” An apprenticeship at his restaurant turned a ceremony of passage for formidable cooks, together with Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Daniel Boulud.

In time, as a backlash in opposition to nouvelle delicacies developed, Mr. Bocuse put a long way between himself and the motion. He referred snidely to “mini-portions on maxi-plates” and at one level dismissed the motion as “a joke.”

“It is not true that Paul Bocuse invented Nouvelle Cuisine,” he informed The Wall Street Journal in 2011. “There were a few dishes that were developed lighter, but that is normal in cooking. The term Nouvelle Cuisine as it came to be known was nothing to do with what was on the plate, but what was on the bill.”

Nouvelle delicacies misplaced momentum, however Mr. Bocuse didn’t. In the early 1980s, the Walt Disney Company invited him to create eating places 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. It serves 2,000 meals a day and generates about $30 million a 12 months.

When the organizers of Eurexpo, a culinary commerce honest in Lyon, approached Mr. Bocuse for concepts on the best way to promote the occasion, he proposed a cooking contest wherein cooks would put together two elaborate dishes, one fish and one meat, earlier than a reside viewers after which submit them to a panel of skilled judges for scoring . The Bocuse d’Or, held each two years, made its debut in 1987 and is now considered the culinary equal of the Olympics, attracting groups from all around the world.

A bunch picture at the 2009 Bocuse d’Or culinary contest included Mr. Bocuse, third from left; Daniel Boulud, fourth from left; and Thomas Keller, third from proper. Created by Mr. Bocuse, the competitors has turn out to be generally known as the Olympics of Food.

Owen Franken for The New York Times

In addition to his restaurant in Collonges-au-Mont-d’Or, Mr. Bocuse operated brasseries in France, Switzerland and Japan, and a culinary college at Écully, close to Lyon.

His cookbooks embody “Paul Bocuse’s French Cooking (1977), “Paul Bocuse in Your Kitchen: An Introduction to Classic French Cooking” (1982), “Bocuse à la Carte” (1989) and “Paul Bocuse: The Complete Recipes” (2011).

For a few years, Mr. Bocuse resisted writing the story of his life, however he ultimately labored with Eve-Marie Zizza-Lalu to supply an as-told-to memoir, “Paul Bocuse: The Sacred Fire,” revealed in 2005. Even in France, eyebrows lifted slightly when Mr. Bocuse revealed that for greater than 30 years, he had loved the corporate of not solely his spouse, Raymonde, the mom of his daughter, Françoise Bernachon, but additionally of two mistresses, certainly one of them the mom of Jérôme. His spouse survives him, as do his two youngsters.

“It would not be everyone’s idea of married life, but everyone gets on,” he informed The Daily Telegraph of London at the time. “They are all happy, with me and each other, and if I add up the time we have spent together as couples, it comes to 145 years.”

Despite his worldwide standing, Mr. Bocuse remained a chef deeply rooted in his native soil. He beloved the standard dishes of Lyon. He slept in the identical bed room the place he had been born.

“When the time comes, I too will end up in the oven,” he informed L’Express in 2005, musing over the a number of meanings of his memoir’s title. “I want my ashes to be scattered in the Saône, which flows right past my house. It is the river of my life.”

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