Joël Robuchon, the French icon and most Michelin-decorated chef in history, is dead at 73. Robuchon died on 6 August 2018, after a long illness with cancer, Le Figaro reports.
Robuchon is credited as the most influential French chef in the era following “nouvelle cuisine”, integrating the depth and heaviness of flavours and preparations that nouvelle adopters had rejected into its philosophy of clean, simple preparations. “Cuisine moderne,” Robuchon’s signature style — using a few ingredients, prepared to express themselves most articulately — won him global acclaim and influence in equal measure. His recipe for mashed potatoes — or pommes purée — which famously uses a 1:2 butter to (Ratte) potato ratio, became not just one of the chef’s signature creations, but one of the upper end of global dining’s most recognisable dishes.
Robuchon made his name at Jamin (where Gordon Ramsay began his professional career), in Paris, his first independent restaurant opened in 1981. The restaurant won three Michelin stars in three consecutive years, and was frequently called the greatest in the world until Robuchon abruptly relocated to Joël Robuchon in 1994, before retiring in 1995. On his return in 2003, he once again shifted the paradigm, adding counter dining and restaurants sans reservations (in part), producing food sensitive to global inflections of his commitment to plain-spoken luxury.
That restaurant and its subsequent brand, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, extended the chef’s portfolio across the world, including in London, where the Covent Garden restaurant under that name has held a Michelin star since 2007, the year following its opening. Globally, Robuchon’s restaurants currently hold 32 stars across 13 countries; his New York restaurant, La Grande Maison, was the subject of harassment accusations over workplace conditions in 2015.