The global culinary community mourned the loss of another icon as news of the passing of French chef Joël Robuchon spread from Geneva on Monday.
Best known for at one time holding the most Michelin stars in the world, Robuchon, who was 73, forever altered fine dining. He was among the first to eschew white tablecloths and closed kitchens and instead put diners at bars a foot or less away from young, harried, ambitious cooks.
Robuchon was also one of the first chefs to hone a high-end kitchen's focus to only a pair, triplet, or quartet of ingredients on each plate, and he presented that ambition on a global scale.
Robuchon was born in Poitiers, in western France, in 1945, one of four children. Like many great French chefs of his generation, he began working in kitchens as a young teen, starting as an apprentice pastry chef in a hotel in Poitiers at age 15. By the time he was 31, Robuchon would claim France's coveted Meilleur Ouvrier de France and go on to mentor chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Le Bernardin's Eric Ripert.
Robuchon also stood at the precipice of an age in which social media gave chefs greater reach and impact than ever before, and expanded their followers beyond just the unpaid stagiaires who make their restaurants run. Cooks no longer have to wait years for an indecipherable cookbook to glean style, technique, and philosophy from their culinary heroes, and from Miami to Mumbai, even the lowliest commis could follow Robuchon's work. On social media, there was an outpouring of heartbreak and loss from chefs and restaurants in Miami and around Florida.
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To say you led a culinary revolution is an understatement. Merci @JRobuchon for making so many foodies before they knew it, chefs before they tried it, and inspiring a legion of masters. ???????????? #Ripchef #legend #foodie pic.twitter.com/ekKAiIriXU— Bern's Steak House (@bernssteakhouse) August 6, 2018
The world's most-starred Michelin chef Joël Robuchon has passed away. He was named "chef of the century" by the Gault & Millau cooking guide. From Paris to Tokyo, his visionary savoir-faire will continue to inspire chefs and generations of food lovers. pic.twitter.com/Lfhz4D7MkW— Jamie DeRosa (@JamieDeRosa) August 6, 2018
What remains to be seen is the future of Robuchon's planned restaurant, another outpost of his L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon empire, in the Design District. About a year ago it was announced that Robuchon, alongside fellow Frenchman Jean-Georges Vongerichten and local hero Brad Kilgore, would open restaurants in the über-luxury shopping district. No one was immediately available to comment on behalf of the Design District or Robuchon, but we'll update this post as more information becomes available.