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Joël Robuchon: The Legacy of the 'Chef of the Century'

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Joël Robuchon: The Legacy of the 'Chef of the Century'
Photo STÉPHANE DE BOURGIES

Dozens of restaurants around the world, 32 Michelin stars and a passion for cooking spanning a 61 year long career ...  Joël Robuchon's CV remains, without doubt, one of the most impressive. At the time of his passing the chef operated 24 Michelin stars across 13 different restaurants. 

We look back at the career of the world's most Michelin-starred chef, who passed away on Monday, August 6 at the age of 73 years, as chefs around the world pay tribute to the legend. 

Early Vocation

Joël Robuchon was born on April 7, 1945, in Poitiers. As a child, he imagined himself becoming a priest. But at the age of 12, he went to Mauléon's Petit seminary where he discovered his love of cooking working alongside the nuns.

The young man finally went on to begin his culinary studies, becoming an apprentice and his initiation into Nouvelle Cuisine - a movement initiated by Paul Bocuseamong others - with his mentor Jean Delaveyne.

From there, everything began to join up. Joël Robuchon became chef at the Concorde Lafayette in Paris in 1974, before winning the title of Meilleur Ouvrier de France in 1976. In 1981, the young man opened his first restaurant, the Jamin, obtaining three Michelin stars in 1984.

In 1990, the chef from Poitiers was crowned "cuisinier du siècle" or "Chef of the Century" by the Gault & Millau.

From then onwards, Joël Robuchon opened many enterprises around the world, including Japan, a country to which he was particularly attached.

Last April, the multi-starred chef also inaugurated his latest establishment in Paris, shop, Joel Robuchon - Dassai.

The Creation of L'Atelier

In addition to his numerous gourmet restaurants and the TV shows - including the famous Bon Appétit Sûr - Joël Robuchon is also known for having invented the concept of "Ateliers," (workshops).

In 1996, at the age of 51, following a 30-year career, the chef decided to remove himself from the stress of the profession and retire. He moved to Alicante in Spain, where the concept of the "L' Atelier" was born. "The idea came to me in the tapas bars where I enjoyed the conviviality and was looking for a formula where something could happen between the customers and the chefs," he told l'Obs in 2003.

The principle being a countertop dining experience and small accessible yet gastronomically interesting dishes. The idea quickly makes a mark and is replicated around the world, from Bangkok to Hong Kong, Las Vegas to New York and London to Tokyo.

Joël Robuchon: The Legendary Puree 

Like all great chefs, Joël Robuchon had his signature dishes. Among them: truffle pie and cauliflower cream with caviar.

But the chef's most emblematic dish is, without doubt, his pomme puree or mashed potatoes, prepared with a kilo of "Ratte" potatoes and 200 grams of butter, whose incredible flavour and velvety texture has become legendary. (find Robuchon's Pomme Puree recipe here).

The food world might have lost one of its brightest stars, but Joël Robuchon's legacy as "chef of the century" will continue to shine.

 

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