‘Pope’ of French cooking Paul Bocuse dies

Paul Bocuse, the founding father of nouvelle cuisine known as the ‘pope’ of French cooking, died in Lyon on Saturday aged 91.

The ‘pope’ of French cooking, Paul Bocuse

Bocuse, who revolutionised French cuisine in the ‘60s and ‘70s, died in a room above his three Michelin starred restaurant L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges in Lyon, which has held the top honour of three stars since 1965.

In a twist of fate, Bocuse, affectionately known as ‘Monsieur Paul’, died in the same room he was born in on 11 February 1926.

News of his death spawned an outpouring of tributes from chefs all over the world who had been influenced and inspired by his cuisine.

Daniel Humm, executive chef of Eleven Madison Park in New York, said: “Thank you for the incredible path you’ve built for us, your passion, creativity and commitment has changed the culinary world forever.

New York-based French chef Daniel Boulud described Bocuse as, “The greatest influence of my life since I started cooking. Your love, generosity and legacy will continue to guide me as a chef forever.”

French president Emmanuel Macron said: “French gastronomy has lost a mythical figure. Chefs will cry in their kitchens, at the Elysée and everywhere in France. But they will continue his work.”

As a reaction against the extravagances of the classic French cuisine of the past, Bocuse’s dishes were characterised by their simplicity and lightness of touch.

However, his French roots ran deep. His favourite ingredient was butter, which he described as a “magical product”.

A recognisable figure with his chef’s hat and tricolour collar, Bocuse was the fist celebrity chef, greeting guests at their tables and appearing on TV, paving the way for the likes of Pierre Koffmann, of Alain Ducasse and Joël Robuchon.

Not keen on staying true to one single style or cuisine, his cooking was hard to categorise.

Business savvy Bocuse opened nine restaurants in his hometown of Lyon and further afield, with sites everywhere from Japan and New York to Switzerland.

Born into a long line of chefs, Bocuse learnt his trade young, mastering veal and kidneys age nine and starting his formal apprenticeship at 16.

In 1987 he created the Bocuse d’Or, a biennial competition that is recognised as the culinary equivalent of the Olympic Games.

One of Bocuse’s most famous dishes is a truffle soup covered by a layer of puff pastry, which he created in 1975 for a dinner at the Elysée Palace in honour of then president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing.

Bocuse is survived by his wife Raymonde, their daughter Françoise, and a son Jérôme, who is a chef.

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