"Of all the passions, the only really respectable one seems to me to be indulgence." - Guy de Maupassant
Even though the Michelin Star was invented in France, Japan is the country with the most Michelin Stars. That said, there are plenty of famous chefs who've never been awarded a single star and the world of cooking is full of great chefs.
While there are plenty of chefs nowadays who inspire us and channels like the Food Network in the US, we’d like to take a look at the great chefs who’ve left their mark on the culinary arts but are sadly no longer with us.
This chef died in 2018 with 42 Michelin distinctions to his name.
He came from a family with modest means and he discovered cooking at Châtillon-sur-Sèvre seminary in the Deux-Sèvres while originally planning to become a clerk. He became an apprentice with the Compagnon du Tour de France and helped create Nouvelle Cuisine with Jean Delaveyne. At the age of 28, he became head chef at the Hôtel Concorde La Fayette. He was awarded the Meilleur Ouvrier de France (MOF) or France’s Best Worker two years later.
As a creator of cult cuisine, TV show presenter, and the head of a global empire of restaurants, Joël Robuchon is still one of the world’s most revered chefs. In fact, two of his three children are chefs themselves.
Anthony Bourdain was an American award-winning celebrity chef and graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. He ran various kitchens in New York after graduating and was the executive chef of Brasserie Les Halles which had locations in Manhattan, Miami, Washington D.C., and Tokyo.
He wrote numerous cookbooks and non-fiction books about travelling and cooking with various chefs around the world. He also had a prolific media career in which he hosted many cooking television shows, appeared as a guest judge on Top Chef, and hosted his own show Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown on CNN.
Sadly, Anthony Bourdain took his own life on June 8, 2018, while filming in France for Parts Unknown. This led to an outpouring of sentiments from fellow celebrity chefs including Andrew Zimmern and Gordon Ramsay. Even Barack Obama, who'd appeared on Bourdain's Parts Unknown show in an episode in Vietnam, stated on Twitter "He taught us about food—but more importantly, about its ability to bring us together. To make us a little less afraid of the unknown.".
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Keith Floyd was one of the most successful English cooks and was famous for teaching people how to cook while enjoying travelling. He was one of the weirder celebrity chefs due to his eccentric style of presentation and would regularly drink wine while cooking.
He ran several restaurants and was no stranger to financial difficulty and many of his restaurants ended due to financial problems and he was even declared bankrupt in 1996.
He regularly published books on cooking and travelling (and even one on hangovers) for over 20 years and regularly made television and radio appearances throughout his career.
He also smoked and drank heavily and was banned from driving for 32 months in 2004 for drunk-driving. He eventually died of a heart attack in 2009.
James Beard was an American chef who was famous for teaching people how to cook American food. He's one of the most famous American celebrity chefs and when he died, Peter Kump, one of his students, led the effort to buy Beard's house and create the James Beard Foundation. The foundation even runs the annual James Beard Foundation Awards around the time of the chef's birthday.
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He actually didn't start out as a chef, but rather a singer and actor. However, he wasn't successful at it so moved onto catering. He hosted I Love to Eat, a television show in the late 1940s and was, as Julia Child put it, “The Dean of American Cuisine”.
He was a proponent of American cuisine at a time when French cuisine was the epitome of fine dining. That said, he did live in France during the 1920s, loved a good bistro, and became a Francophile after his time there.
Julia Child is arguably one of the first celebrity chefs in the US. She is famous for bringing French cuisine to the US and being the original foodie!
She was born in California and despite having a cook while growing up, didn't learn anything from them. In fact, she only became interested in cooking when she met the man who would later become her husband, Paul, who was interested in fine dining.
She moved to France when her husband was stationed there by the US State Department. Following a meal of oysters, sole meunière, and fine wine, she was sold on cooking. She would attend the Cordon Bleu cooking school and joined a women's cooking club where she met Simone Beck and Louisette Betholle, who were writing a French cookbook for Americans. Child ended up helping them on the book.
Her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking sold incredibly well and is an essential purchase for anyone wanting to know about French cuisine. She debuted on TV in a show titled The French Chef and followed up with her second book, The French Chef Cookbook. She then did Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume Two with help from Beck and Bertholle again.
Originally from near Lyon, Paul Bocuse started aged 20 after participating in the Second World War. He learnt with the help of Eugénie Brazier but cooking is in his genes.
The Bocuses have been chefs since the 17th century. His grandfather owned L'Auberge du Pont de Collonges which he inherited.
Did you know that Americans tended to a war wound he received and a GI tattooed a cockerel on his left arm?
After having learnt the trade from his mentor Fernand Point, he gained his first Michelin Star alongside his father in Collonges. Three years later, he was awarded the MOF. He was also awarded the Legion of Honour by the president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, for whom he created black truffle soup.
At the end of the 1980s, he created the Bocuse d’Or award for cooking and became president of the MOF competition. He died a few months before Joël Robuchon of Parkinson’s disease aged 91.
Roger Vergé is considered to be one of the greatest chefs of all time. He's famous for nouvelle cuisine and Provencal cuisine. From humble origins, he learned to cook from his aunt and would dedicate many of his books to her. He was trained at the Tour d'Argent and Plaza Athénée restaurants in Paris. He also worked in restaurants in Morocco, Algeria, Kenya, Monaco, and Le Lavandou in France.
He took traditional gourmet cuisine from France and renovated it. In fact, he is said to have created “nouvelle cuisine”. Though he did later liken the movement to sushi and Japanese cuisine and said “It is nothing serious. Now it looks Japanese: large dishes, small portions, no taste, but very expensive.”
He opened the Moulin de Mougins restaurant with his wife in 1969. Since the restaurant is quite near Cannes, many celebrities attending the film festival would eat there. This restaurant was awarded Michelin Stars in 1970, 1972, and 1974.
He also opened a restaurant at Walt Disney World's Epcot Center and a restaurant at the Rockefeller Center.
He wrote a handful of cookbooks in French which have hall been translated into English.
Who is your favourite chef?
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