PARIS – Paul Bucose, a pioneer of nouvelle French cuisine and a decades-long bearer of three Michelin stars whose work influenced chefs the world over, has died in his hometown at the age of 91, the French interior minister announced Saturday.
Born in Collonges-au-Mont-d’Or, near the city of Lyon, Bucose (1926-2018), rose to international eminence in the culinary world in the mid-1960s at the beginning of France’s nouvelle cuisine revolution, when a host of chefs stripped back cuisine classique and put emphasis on fresh, healthy produce and delicate presentation.
“Paul Bocuse has died, the world of gastronomy is in mourning,” said the interior minister, Gérard Collomb. “Mr Paul was France. Simplicity and generosity. Excellence and art of living. The pope of gastronomes leaves us. May our chefs, in Lyon, as in the four corners of the world, long cultivate the fruits of his passion,” he added.
The interior minister had previously served as mayor of Lyon, a city that hosts four of Bocuse’s brasseries: Le Nord, L’Est, Le Sud and L’Ouest.
Bocuse’s signatory dishes exalted innovative design and captivating presentation but never to the detriment of taste, as epitomized by his classic sea-bass in delicate pastry, which itself is sculpted to resemble the fish it encases.
It is the nearby town of Collonges-au-Mont-d’Or, however, that houses the so-called pope of gastronomy’s famous L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges, also simply known as Paul Bucose, which since 1965 has boasted three coveted Michelin stars.
Bucose took over L’Auberge du Pont in 1958, although his long career in the kitchen had begun well before that as a dishwasher in his family’s restaurant at the tender age of 10.
Just over 50 years later, having already founded the Bocuse d’Or award and a culinary school in his name, Bucose was pronounced Chef of the Century by one of the United States’ leading institutes in the world of gastronomy, the Culinary Institute of America.
Tributes for the Frenchman poured in from notable chefs around the world, demonstrating how much influence the Frenchman had on modern cooking.
René Redzepi, the co-owner and chef at the two-Michelin-star Danish eatery Noma, wrote on Twitter “RIP Paul Bocuse – sleep well chef, and thank you for a lifetime of work and inspiration.”