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Master of French cuisine Paul Bocuse dies age 91, France's interior minister says

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 20/01/2018 Ella Wills
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Top French chef Paul Bocuse has died aged 91, France's interior minister has announced.

Mr Bocuse died on Saturday at Collonges-au-Mont-d'or, the place where he was born and had his restaurant, French president Emmanuel Macron said in a statement.

Minister Gerard Collomb tweeted that "Mister Paul was France. Simplicity and generosity. Excellence and art de vivre".

The chef, who underwent a triple heart bypass in 2005, had also been suffering from Parkinson's disease.

His temple to French gastronomy, L'Auberge du Pont de Collonges, outside the city of Lyon in south-eastern France, has held three stars - without interruption - since 1965 in the Michelin guide, the bible of gastronomes.

Often referred to as the "pope of French cuisine", Mr Bocuse was a tireless pioneer, the first chef to blend the art of cooking with business tactics - branding his cuisine and his image to create an empire of restaurants around the globe.

As early as 1982, Mr Bocuse opened a restaurant in the France Pavilion in Walt Disney World's Epcot Centre in Orlando, Florida, headed by his son Jerome, also a chef.

In recent years, Mr Bocuse even dabbled in fast food with two outlets in his home base of Lyon.

"He has been a leader. He took the cook out of the kitchen," said celebrity French chef Alain Ducasse, speaking at a January 2013 gathering to honour Mr Bocuse - then just shy of his 87th birthday.

While excelling in the business of cooking, Mr Bocuse never flagged in his devotion to his first love, creating a top class, quintessentially French meal.

Born of a family of cooks that he dates to the 1700s, Mr Bocuse stood guard over the kitchen of his world-famous restaurant even in retirement when he was not travelling, keeping an eye on guests, sometimes greeting them at table.

The red and green Auberge by the Saone River, his name boldly set atop the roof, is a temple to Mr Bocuse - who was born there - and to other great chefs.

Born on February 11, 1926, Mr Bocuse entered his first apprenticeship at 16.

He worked at the famed La Mere Brazier in Lyon, then spent eight years with one of his culinary idols, Fernand Point.

Mr Bocuse's career in the kitchen traversed the ages. He went from apprenticeships and cooking "brigades", as kitchen teams are known, when stoves were coal-fired and chefs also served as scullery maids, to the ultra-modern kitchen of his Auberge.

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