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Mystery over death of ‘world’s best’ chef

French chef Benoît Violier, whose three Michelin-starred Restaurant de l’Hotel de Ville in Switzerland was named the “best in the world” in December, has been found dead at his home.

French chef Benoît Violier

Mr Violier, 44, was found at his home on Sunday, with Swiss police confirming that the chef appeared to have shot himself with a hunting rifle.

Mr Violier had been due to attend the launch of the new Michelin Guide France in Paris on Monday. His restaurant, Restaurant de l’Hotel de Ville in Crissier, near the south-western Swiss city of Lausanne, held three Michelin stars and was recently crowned the “world’s best” in a new global ranking of restaurants compiled by a new French-based ranking La Liste. La Liste was launched this year in partnership with the French foreign ministry as an alternative to the British-based World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

Mr Violier moved to Paris in 1991 where he trained with top French chefs including Joel Robuchon and Benoit Guichard. Starting at Restaurant de l’Hotel de Ville in 1996, Violier later took it over along with his wife Brigitte in 2012. Open nearly 40 years, the restaurant offers menus ranging from 195 Swiss francs (£134) to 380 Swiss francs.

A keen hunter, Violier was known for signature dishes including game and published a book entitled La cuisine du gibier a poil d’europe, focusing on European game recipes.  

The Michelin Guide described Violier as an “immense talent”, holding a one minute silence in his honour at its unveiling of this year’s star ratings on Monday.

Swiss chef Fredy Girardet, who also received three Michelin stars, described him as a “brilliant man” with an “amazing capacity for work”, speaking to Swiss newspaper 24 Heures.

“He was so kind, with so many qualities. He gave the impression of being perfect”, the chef said.

On Twitter, Paul Bocuse, another leading French chef, described Mr Violier as a “great man and a gigantic talent”.

An investigation has been opened into his death.

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