French culinary icon, Joël Robuchon has died after a long illness with cancer. As well as being the most decorated chef in the history of the Michelin star index, he is credited with the evolution of fine dining globally — specifically taking nouvelle cuisine to “cuisine moderne.”
Though his imprint is felt across the world, and as keenly in America, as in his home nation of France, the chef — who opened his first and only restaurant in London in 2006 — has drawn plaudits from the culinary world, with chefs, restaurateurs, and food writers in the U.K. today paying tribute to the man and his legacy.
Gordon Ramsay was mentored by Robuchon at Jamin, his famed Paris restaurant largely believed to be the world’s best for the duration of its existence. Ramsay wrote in his biography, Humble Pie, that his nemesis Marco Pierre White was a “fucking pussycat” in comparison to Robuchon, whose ferocious attention to detail was a hallmark of both his cooking and, eventually, his line of eponymous L’Atelier restaurants in three continents.
This lunchtime, it was Ramsay who led the tributes, calling Robuchon the “God Father of Michelin.”
Bibendum’s Claude Bosi, another Frenchman, and a chef whose restaurant is housed in London’s former Michelin headquarters, thanked Robuchon for everything he had done for gastronomy.
Food writer and Eater London contributor Sejal Sukhadwala described Robuchon as the “father of fine dining.”
The food and travel journalist Sudi Pigott, who first met Robuchon when he was still running Jamin in 1992, wrote a piece for Sunday Times Style on the chef’s famous mashed made ratte potatoes, which are combined with an almost impossible quantity of butter and which he insisted had to be passed through a mouli at least twice.
I did quite a lot of other interviews [with him], mostly memorably for the FT’s How to Spend It on his perfect weekend. He talked a great deal of how much he liked holidaying in Alicante, eating at Nou Manolin (which has a notice up saying he is a regular) [and] which was the inspiration for L’Atelier, as well as running with the bulls. I was most struck by how, contrary to his reputation for being a ferocious perfectionist in the kitchen (I gather he reduced Ramsay to tears regularly as I knew his girlfriend at that time) and saw him box one of his key chefs (though he did say it was playful as I was shocked at the time), he said he got the most pleasure from sitting his grandchildren on his knee and playing with them.
Noble Rot head chef Paul Weaver left a simple tribute.
Writer and The Observer restaurant critic Jay Rayner focussed on Robuchon’s now legendary pommes purées, as well as his character.
Just heard about the death of Joel Robuchon. The test of a great chef is the ability to change forever the simplest of things. Robuchon changed the way a certain type of restaurant made mashed potato, by putting less potato and more butter in it. He was also a very nice chap.— Jay Rayner (@jayrayner1) August 6, 2018
Holder of three Michelin stars, and owner of Dame de Pic in London, Anne Sophie Pic was one of many to call Robuchon “a visionary.”
Après Paul Bocuse, un autre père fondateur de la gastronomie française disparaît cette année. Jour de tristesse immense, puisque c’est un peu de notre histoire qui nous quitte avec ce grand visionnaire … Une étoile de plus brille désormais au firmament des grands Chefs. ..... After Paul Bocuse, another legend of French gastronomy disappears today, a day of immense sadness. We miss a lot this great visionary, who was a part of our history ... He shines now in the firmament of the great Chiefs. @joel.robuchon #RIP #robuchon #joelrobuchon #gastronomiefrancaise #legende #3etoiles #lesgrandestablesdumonde #grandchef #guidemichelin Crédit photo @stephanedebourgies