Paul Bocuse dies aged 91

The culinary world lost a true legend in January 2018 when top French chef Paul Bocuse died in his sleep in the same room he was born in in February 1926. He was aged 91 years old. Bocuse was born in 1926 in his family home in Collognes-au-Mont-d’Or in the north of Lyon. Bocuse’s family had worked as chefs since the 17th century and Paul continued the long-running tradition. During the Second World War, Bocuse served as a volunteer in the Gen de Gaulle’s Free French Army and earned the Croix de Guerre medal after being injured in the eastern French city of Alsace.

After the war had ended, Bocuse began his apprenticeship with the legendary Eugenie Brazier who was one of the first chefs to be awarded the coveted Michelin three stars. Bocuse returned home in 1956 and transformed his father’s small hotel into what became a thriving restaurant. Bocuse won his first Michelin star in 1961, another in 1962 and his third in 1965; Bocuse held these three stars simultaneously for more than 50 years.

Michelin stars

Bocuse was one of the most prominent chefs associated with what is known as nouvelle cuisine, which is lighter and more delicate than traditional French cuisine and has an increased emphasis on presentation. Bocue claimed Henri Gault first coined the term nouvelle cuisine to describe the food prepared by Bocuse and other leading chefs for the maiden flight of Concord in 1969. Over the years, Bocuse trained several chefs who have gone on to be industry leaders Perhaps his greatest success was with Austria’s Eckart Witzigmann who was voted one of the four Chefs of the Century and was the chef at the first Germany restaurant to receive three Michelin stars.

Bocuse’s main restaurant is the l’Aberge du Pont de Collonges near Lyon. The luxurious establishment has served a traditional menu for decade and is only one of 27 restaurants in France to receive a three star rating in the 2017 edition of the Michelin Guide. In addition to his restaurants, Bocuse operated a chain of brasseries in Lyon named simply Le Nord, l’Est, Le Sud and l’Ouest. Each of these brasseries specialises in a different aspect of French cuisine.

l’Aberge du Pont de Collonges near Lyon

Although Bocuse rarely had any spare time on his hands, mostly because he was dedicated to his trade and was always looking for new innovative ways to prepare dishes, he did find the time two write two books. The first was published in 1977 and is called Paul Bocuse’s French Cooking with the second entitled Bocuse a la Carte in 1987.

Several prominent leaders gave their condolences following the news of Bocuse’s death, which was linked to Parkinson’s Disease, including French president Emmanuel Macron. Macron said of Bocuse, “His name alone sums up French gastronomy; his generosity, his respect for traditions but also his innovation. Today French gastronomy has lost a legendary figure who transformed it profoundly. Chefs are crying in their kitchens at the Elysee and everywhere in France. But they will carry on his work.”

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