This week the Culinary Institute of America announced plans to renovate and rename its Escoffier Restaurant in honor of legendary French chef Paul Bocuse, who the institute has recognized as Chef of the Century.
When it opens next year, the Bocuse Restaurant will be a modern take on French cuisine, shifting away from formal French dining to a ''sleek, haute brasserie,'' as explained in an article by the New York Times. Chefs and professional cooks understand the significance of such a change. It is akin to the face of George Washington being replaced by Barack Obama's on the American dollar bill.
Paul Bocuse has received many honors in his lifetime, including three Michelin stars. The celebrated chef has left his mark in gastronomy: from propelling nouvelle cuisine to conceiving the Bocuse d'Or, one of the most prestigious culinary awards in the world. The 86-year old is a living culinary legend.
This begs the question: Is Paul Bocuse the modern day Auguste Escoffier? The latter is considered the godfather of classic French cuisine. He codified the culinary brigade system, popularized French food and made cooking a respected profession. Escoffier's name has been honored time and again in culinary schools and books. But the CIA's move marks a new page in culinary history.
Seldom do we see such changes take place before our eyes. Two great chefs, two big names, and much history made. There's no doubt Escoffier will continue to be an important figure in the history of French cuisine but it seems the torch has slowly been passed to Bocuse. Do you think the chef is the modern day Escoffier?