Header: Paul Bocuse and an image from his official website
The French chef, who died on January 20th aged 91, was not only an innovator but a prolific nurturer of talent in the gastronomic world.
During the Second World War, Paul Bocuse fought for the liberation of France and was wounded in the process. When he returned to the family business of cooking after the Allies’ victory, this proud Lyonnais was never going to revert to an old-fashioned pre-war culinary outlook. Instead, he used his hard-won freedom to help take French gastronomy in a new direction, becoming its ultimate ambassador in the 20th century.
Monsieur Paul, as he was known in the industry, died in the same room in which he was born in the town of Collonges-au-Mont-d’Or, outside Lyon. Despite his influence spreading around the globe, it was here that the chef-restaurateur maintained three Michelin stars at his restaurant, L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges, for over 50 years (and counting).
50 Best joins the global gastronomic community in mourning the death of this hugely respected icon of the culinary arts. As one of the pioneers of France’s ‘nouvelle cuisine’ movement in the late Sixties and Seventies, Bocuse did more than anyone to ensure his country’s food did not stand still by creating a lighter, innovative and more refined chapter in its history.
On top of that, through his own example, Bocuse elevated the status of chefs from behind-the-scenes artisans to high-profile artists, stepping out of the kitchen and into the dining room. Arguably he created the mould for the modern media- and marketing-savvy chef with worldwide appeal.
For the last 30 years, the chef’s name has also been synonymous with the international cooking competition he conceived, the Bocuse d’Or, which takes place every two years at Lyon’s Sirha exhibition. Its inception was typical of a man who loved to nurture talent, inspiring generations of chefs in his kitchens, through his books, via his myriad protégés and by way of the Bocuse d’Or.
When The World’s 50 Best Restaurants launched its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005, its panel of voters spread across the world overwhelmingly chose to honour Chef Bocuse. Among his legion of awards and accolades, it remains a fitting tribute to a brave chef and a courageous man.
Many in the global gastronomic community have paid their own tributes to Paul Bocuse. Here is a small selection of Instagram posts from the 50 Best family:
We mourn the loss of #MonsieurPaul. He was a giant. He was ”the man.” . Chef Paul Bocuse was not only my dear friend but a man who changed our lives and the lives of millions. He set the example for chefs and restauranteurs. He helped us understand the importance of evolution, teaching, mentoring, sharing, and building meaningful relationships. . In his lifetime, he began a culinary revolution thereby elevating the awareness of cuisine on a global scale, which in turn informed how we view and interact with food. We are forever grateful for his love for America, and for being the Chef that motivated the culinary culture of this country. He will be deeply missed. . We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. There are few individuals who have bourn the weight of our profession, and the modernization of restaurants around the world, as Chef Paul has. . I will miss him dearly and will continue to champion his legacy. Join me in celebrating his exemplary life.
De Paul Bocuse, je veux me souvenir du fou rire que nous avions eu en 2012 lorsque je l’avais interviewé pour mon livre « Mémoires de Chefs ». Il m’avait raconté tant d’histoires et de blagues que j’en avais les larmes aux yeux. Farceur mais aussi malin au-delà du raisonnable, talentueux et courageux aussi, en perpétuelle avance sur son temps, c’était un homme à part. Ce qu’on appelle une légende.
Here’s a few images of some amazing times chez Bocuse. The last time I went, he was working the dining room, shaking hands, posing for pictures. Limping from table to table. The Chef whites immaculately pressed and clean, and the hat as high as ever. After the meal we sat for a brief moment in the kitchen. He looked at me and asked “how many do you do for lunch?” Around 40 pax I replied. Bocuse lifted his head and smiled “well today we did 90” - He really was the boss to the end. - Bon voyage chef
Thank you for the incredible path you’ve built for us, your passion, creativity and commitment has changed the culinary world forever . You’re the reason why our profession is getting recognized in the way it does you’ve made being a chef noble. Sending my love to you Chef, your family and your entire team. Rest In Peace Monsieur Paul! #makeitnice