Legendary French chef Joël Robuchon has died at the age of 73, following a long battle with cancer.
Robuchon, named “chef of the century” by French restaurant guide Gault Millau in 1989, was the most decorated in Michelin history. At one time his international portfolio held 32 Michelin stars, and according to a statement from Michelin, his restaurants currently have 24 stars across 10 cities. He was the mentor to a host of celebrated chefs and an icon in the eyes of many others.
Robuchon opened his first restaurant, Jamin, in Paris in 1981. In its first three years, the restaurant earned three Michelin stars, the French dining guide’s highest honor. In 1994, Robuchon opened the first restaurant to bear his name: Joël Robuchon restaurant, also in Paris. He would go on to expand his brand globally with L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon restaurants on three continents.
The restaurants were acclaimed for Robuchon’s signature “cuisine moderne,” which highlighted individual ingredients. His butter-rich pommes purée, in particular, became a celebrated and much-replicated dish.
There are 26 Robuchon restaurants open today, 11 of them L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon restaurants. And although Robuchon closed both his restaurants in Singapore this year, he wasn’t done adding new restaurants to his portfolio. At the time of his death, there were more in the works, including three restaurants in Miami’s design district.
Chefs, restaurateurs, and food writers from across the world have begun to pay tribute to Robuchon, led by Gordon Ramsay, who began his professional cooking career under the French icon at Jamin. He called his one-time mentor “The Godfather of Michelin.”
In the U.S., chef and TV star Andrew Zimmern tweeted that it was a “very sad day” for the industry, calling Robuchon an “amazing man.”
Joel Robuchon 1947-2018— Andrew Zimmern (@andrewzimmern) August 6, 2018
A very sad day for any of us in our industry and for the millions of other who were touched by this amazing man. When I was 23 I almost crapped myself being part of a team cooking him a birthday dinner in NYC. Over the years he was beyond kind to me. #sad
Anne Sophie-Pic, once the only female chef in France to hold three Michelin stars, called the Robuchon a “legend of French gastronomy.”
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
French newspaper Le Figaro, which broke the story, called Robuchon a “visionary” who broke all the rules of haute cuisine.
Patissiere and chocolatier Pierre Marcoli mourned the loss of his friend.
London chef Ashley Palmer-Watts counted himself lucky to have cooked alongside the chef.
LA-based cook, author, and TV star Simon Majumdar called it “another sad loss for the culinary world.”
R.I.P Joel Robuchon. Another sad loss for the culinary world.— Simon Majumdar (@SimonMajumdar) August 6, 2018
New York restaurateur Danny Meyer thanked Robuchon for his “profound inspiration.”
Thank you for the profound inspiration, Joël Robuchon. Our profession is in your debt.— Danny Meyer (@dhmeyer) August 6, 2018
Fellow empire-builder David Chang thought of Robuchon as the “Bill Walsh of gastronomy.”
Albert Adrià’s Tickets restaurant in Barcelona, whose menu features a dish named after Robuchon, posted a photo of the Tarta Robuchon, calling him “one of the major figures” whom both Albert and El Bulli’s Ferran Adrià referenced.
Chocolatier and pâtissier Jean Paul Hevin said he owed all of his success to Robuchon, offering his condolences to the chef’s family.
Juan Mari Arzak, of Arzak in San Sebastian, said that Robuchon was and would remain a global reference point for all chefs.
The Guardian restaurant critic Jay Rayner remarked that Robuchon forever changed mashed potatoes.
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
French chefs Claude Bosi and Dominique Crenn thanked Robuchon for his contributions to French gastronomy.
So heartbroken .. Monsieur Robuchon .. you will be missed . Thank you for all you have done R.I.P ... joel.robuchon https://t.co/NUH0FokWTG— dominique crenn (@dominiquecrenn) August 6, 2018
Eric Ripert hailed his mentor as the “ultra gifted King of all Chefs.”
Shocked and very sad by the loss of my Mentor Joel Robuchon. The most rigorous,precise,demanding,— Eric Ripert (@ericripert) August 6, 2018
ultra gifted King of all Chefs...
RIP Monsieur Robuchon pic.twitter.com/RCx8cj5m1I
This post will be updated throughout the day as the food world continues to pay tribute to Robuchon.