'Chef of the century' Joel Robuchon dies aged 73

Celine Dion on a shelf in his restaurant

Celine Dion on a shelf in his restaurant

Before his death the chef presided over 25 restaurants around the world, including L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon sites in Paris, London, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Taipei, Tokyo, New York, Las Vegas and Montreal.

Robuchon, who was hailed as one of four "chefs of the century" by the Gault & Millau industry bible in 1990, founded a string of restaurants that revolutionised fine dining across three continents, at one point ratcheting up a record 32 Michelin stars.

He was also known for his fiery disposition, with Ramsay liking it to "working for the SAS", and saying that in comparison with Robuchon, the famously short-tempered Marco Pierre White was a "f***ing pussycat".

Gordon Ramsay, Robuchon later told The Telegraph, was a talented chef, but had a "difficult" attitude - and did not apparently take kindly to being told he had not made a dish of langoustine ravioli properly. He steadily expanded his fame, branching out from being one of Paris's most recognised three-star chefs to become a worldwide phenomenon. Even when we were sleeping! Merci Chef, God Bless you'll be missed'.

"One of the unrivalled masters of world gastronomy has left us", Anne-Sophie Pic, France's only female chef with three stars, tweeted.

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He died of cancer, according to French daily Le Figaro. All my thoughts to his family'. His goal was always to show off, not mask, their flavours. His revolutionary "Atelier" restaurants offering intimate counter seating around the world made Robouchon a Michelin star collector. "I have seen so many good chefs - some famous, some not - who have gone and, with them, a part of knowledge and tradition is lost and nobody can take it back".

But Michelin, and just about everyone else, gobbled up his culinary innovations.

At the age of 50, after working himself to the bone, he chose to retire to Spain - but was back in action a couple of years later with the Atelier concept, inspired by Japanese sushi counter restaurants and meant to be more affordable than traditional three-star eateries. But hours spent cooking with the nuns convinced him he had another calling.

A perfectionist from the start, he quickly earned a name for himself in the rarefied world of nouvelle cuisine and by the age of 30 was running a 90-strong kitchen at the Concorde Lafayette hotel in Paris. 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. The restaurant racked up a Michelin star a year during its first three years - a feat no one had previously accomplished. The wait for a reservation was two months, even though the price for a meal without wine was $200.

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