Miami Chefs React to Joël Robuchon's Passing

The legendary French chef is dead at 73.
The legendary French chef is dead at 73. Courtesy of Joël Robuchon
click to enlarge The legendary French chef is dead at 73. - COURTESY OF JOËL ROBUCHON
The legendary French chef is dead at 73.
Courtesy of Joël Robuchon
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.

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.
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Zachary Fagenson became the New Times Broward-Palm Beach restaurant critic in 2012 before taking up the post for Miami in 2014. He also works as a correspondent for Reuters.
Contact: Zachary Fagenson