Today the culinary world remembers the globally influential French chef and cookbook author Joël Robuchon, who passed away from cancer this morning at the age of 73. Robuchon was a key figure in the rise of post-nouvelle cuisine, spreading his playful and precise take on French cooking through the 12 locations of L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon. As of 2018, his restaurants collectively hold 31 Michelin stars, making him the most decorated chef in the guide’s history.
In 1981, Robuchon opened his first restaurant, Café Jamin, which went on to earn a new Michelin star in each of its first three years. His eponymous restaurant group would eventually expand to three continents, with its former location in New York City garnering Robuchon a James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant in 2007.
“Like Hermes, Cartier, and Dior before him, Robuchon took his impressive skill—many considered him among the greatest chefs of the last century—and created a global luxury brand,” said Mitchell Davis, chief strategy officer at the James Beard Foundation. “That he did so while remaining relevant and without ever compromising quality or craft is remarkable in any field, but in the high-priced, high-stakes, highly perishable and ever-changing game of fine cuisine it is virtually unheard of. He will be remembered for his mashed potatoes, but his legacy belongs to the patrimony of France and the global hegemony of la cuisine française."
Robuchon’s most recent location of L’Atelier in New York reflected the chef’s increased interest in organic ingredients and vegetarian options. The author of multiple cookbooks, Robuchon also devoted much of his career to mentoring up-and-coming chefs, including Gordon Ramsay and Eric Ripert. He will be deeply missed.