‘Chef of the century’, Joel Robuchon, dies at 73

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PARIS, Aug 6 (AFP): Joel Robuchon, the world’s most-starred Michelin chef who tore down kitchen walls to give diners new insights into the art of haute cuisine, has died at 73, a French government spokesman said on Monday.

Robuchon, who was hailed as one of four “chefs of the century” by the Gault & Millau industry bible in 1990, founded a string of restaurants that revolutionised fine dining across three continents, ratcheting up a record 31 Michelin stars.

From Tokyo to Paris and Macau, foodies queue up for seats in his L’Atelier restaurants, where they can watch chefs in action, perched on high stools at a U-shaped bar.

According to Le Figaro newspaper, he died of cancer in the Swiss city of Geneva.

His death was confirmed by government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux in a tweet.

“Joel Robuchon, a visionary chef who was the most starred in the world, leaves us today.

“From Paris to Shanghai, his savoir-faire was an art form that made French gastronomy shine and continues to inspire the next generation of chefs,” Griveaux wrote.

Tributes poured in from other top chefs, already mourning the death earlier this year of French culinary “pope” Paul Bocuse, and more recently globetrotting American celebrity chef and author Anthony Bourdain.

“One of the unrivalled masters of world gastronomy has left us,” Anne-Sophie Pic, France’s only female chef with three stars, tweeted.

Born in 1945 in the central city of Poitiers to a bricklayer father and stay-at-home mother, his first vocation was the priesthood.

But while cooking alongside nuns for other seminarians he discovered a passion for food and at 15 entered the restaurant trade.

A perfectionist from the start, he quickly earned a name for himself in the rarefied world of nouvelle cuisine and by the age of 30 was running a 90-strong kitchen at the Concorde Lafayette hotel in Paris.

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