On the evening of February 24 2003, an astounding story broke into French radio and TV news bulletins, then raced around the world: Bernard Loiseau, France's most famous chef, had committed suicide. More than a surprise, it was simply unbelievable, because he was a man who had everything: a super luxurious hotel and restaurant holding three stars, ...
On the evening of February 24 2003, an astounding story broke into French radio and TV news bulletins, then raced around the world: Bernard Loiseau, France's most famous chef, had committed suicide. More than a surprise, it was simply unbelievable, because he was a man who had everything: a super luxurious hotel and restaurant holding three stars, the highest rating of the Michelin guide; media star status at home and an enviable reputation worldwide for the daring cuisine des essences he had invented; a great staff, entirely devoted to his cause; an attractive loyal wife and three beautiful young children. He was on top of the world, and yet he chose to end it all or was it was because he was on top of the world? Enigma.
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Lots of insightful information on the development and growth of French Haute Cuisine. Mr. Chelminski does a great job taking the history of French cuisine and ties it in with Bernard Loiseau, the French chef who reached a pinnacle of success but took his own life. Mr. Chelmenski relates the pressures, expectations and desires each chef looking to be recognized by Michelin experiences.
Jan 22, 2009
Ambition, success, tragedy, history
Bernard Loiseau began like most good French chefs, as the kitchen helper of the best chef who would hire him. Competition among chefs for good ratings in the Michelin Red Guide was fierce, with a three-star the most coveted.
Loiseau, coming into his own as a chef, successfully navigated the competition, becoming a national star, awarded the Legion of Honor, and appearing on television. His famous restaurant in Saulieu, transforming a decade hotel into a superb inn, was visited by the rich and famous, and cemented his reputation. But his reputation was built on a type of cuisine.
In time, when tastes changed and younger chefs made their names in new recipes, the trade began to lag. Despite a good business, Loiseau could not stand the humiliation of being reduced to only two Michelin stars, and comitted suicide. But his brilliant wife, Dominique, and his prize-winning chef, Patrick Bertron, carried on and operate the inn and restaurant today. An excellent read by a prominent American writer who has lived in France for thirty years.
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