Tributes pour in for late French chef Joël Robuchon

High profile figures including President Macron and chef Alain Ducasse have been paying homage to the late French chef Joël Robuchon, who died aged 73 on Monday August 6.

7 August 2018
By Connexion journalist

Mr Robuchon, whose 17 restaurants had 32 Michelin stars worldwide - the most for one chef in the world - died this week after a long battle with cancer.

A statement from the Elysée Palace in the name of Mr Macron said the chef had known how to highlight the best of “French culture”, and to “wake up a new generation of chefs and give people the flavour of our lands and of our traditions”.

Mr Robuchon’s death comes just months after that of another French culinary legend, Paul Bocuse, who died aged 91 in January this year.

Referencing Mr Bocuse, Mr Macron’s statement continued: “French gastronomy is in painful mourning this year, but we are strengthened by the living and vibrant heritage of these chefs, who have reached new levels of greatness in apprenticing and artistry.”

Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, joined in the tributes to the late chef; as did Christian Estrosi, mayor of Nice, and Martine Aubry, mayor of Lille.

Ms Hidalgo called the chef a “genius” and said he would leave “an immense heritage to the world of gastronomy”.

Mr Estrosi called Mr Robuchon “one of the biggest ambassadors of French gastronomy”, mixing “daring, modernity, and authenticity”.

Ms Aubry said the chef’s vision had influenced generations and would continue to be a source of inspiration.

Many French chefs also joined the tributes.

High-end chef Alain Ducasse praised Mr Robuchon’s tireless hard work in taking his “own personal path within the field” and making a lasting “mark on French haute cuisine”.

Chef Marc Veyrat called Mr Robuchon “the most creative man of the 21st century”, as well as a “genius and friend”.

Régis Marcon, president of high-end culinary competition the Bocuse d'Or France (named after late chef Paul Bocuse), said: “[Mr Robuchon] was a master. He was self-made and worked with precision. Like all chefs today, I am overcome with emotion.”

Thierry Marx, executive chef at high-end hotel the Mandarin Oriental in Paris, took to photo sharing platform Instagram to share his respects, simply saying “thank you chef”, accompanied by a photo of Mr Robuchon.

Merci Chef pour ce que vous nous avez transmis #joelrobuchon

8,456 Likes, 105 Comments - Thierry Marx (@thierrymarx) on Instagram: "Merci Chef pour ce que vous nous avez transmis #joelrobuchon"

Staff at Mr Robuchon’s 17 restaurants have also voiced their “sadness” and “confusion” at the death of their former owner, although the sites appear unlikely to lose their Michelin stars or Gault & Millau ratings just yet.

Côme de Chérisey, CEO of prestigious French restaurant guide Gault & Millau, explained: “I do not know what these restaurants had planned in the event of the death of their owner, but being that the accolades were awarded to the establishments, each one will keep [their awards at least] until our next visit and the appearance of the next Guide."

Mr de Chérisey highlighted the example of Mr Bocuse’s restaurant group, and suggested that Mr Robuchon’s company could follow suit.

He said: “[Mr Bocuse’s] son and himself had long since organised a succession plan, which planned for Mr Bocuse’s restaurants to remain full for at least six months after his death. As strange as it sounds, the quality of these sites has almost improved since.”

Mr de Chérisey explained that in his later years, Mr Robuchon took a more hands-off role, travelling between restaurants regularly just to check quality and keep in touch with the chefs who were actually running the stoves.

He said: “The strength of these great chefs, is that they have exceptional teams. Even if they do not cook themselves, they know how to fix a dish. Joël Robuchon travelled a lot to stay close to his chefs, who he had often trained himself.

“I think they have enough experience and technique to continue to operate these great restaurants at the highest level.”

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