32-star chef Joël Robuchon dead at 73

Gastronomy world in mourning at news of internationally renowned chef's death following battle with cancer

Joël Robuchon

Internationally renowned chef Joël Robuchon died in Geneva on Monday at the age of 73, following a long battle with cancer.

He was born in Poitiers, on April 7, 1945, and went on to become one of the most decorated chefs in the world. He operated a restaurants in Bangkok, Bordeaux, Hong Kong, Las Vegas, London, Macau, Monaco, Montreal, Paris, Singapore, Taipei, Tokyo, and New York, which had a total of 32 Michelin stars between them – the most of any chef in the world.

But he nearly did not enter the culinary world. At the age of 12, he went to a seminary in Deux-Sèvres, intending to join the priesthood. But, helping the nuns prepare meals, he discovered his penchant for gastronomy.

Three years' later, he began his apprenticeship as a pastry chef with chef Robert Auton, at the Relais de Poitiers in Chasseneuil-du-Poitou. In 1974, he took his first head chef's job at Concorde Lafayette, where he was in charge of a team of 90.

He was awarded the Meilleur Ouvrier de France title in 1976, won the first two of his 32 stars two years later, as chef at the Nikko Hotel. His third came in 1984, for his own restaurant, the Jamin. He was hailed Cuisinier du siècle (chef of the century) by Gault Millau in 1990.

Six years later, at the age of 51, he abandoned the high-end restaurant business in favour of a simpler, more relaxed form of cooking, inspired by the convivial atmosphere of tapas bars. He went on to duplicate his Atelier (workshop) cuisine concept all over the world.

His last venue was a Japan-inspired tea-restaurant-pâtisserie-bar that opened in Paris in the Spring.

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