Paul Bocuse, one of the most celebrated chefs in the world, named Chef of the Century in 2011 by the Culinary Institute of America, and one of the trio of famous cooks who opened Les Chefs de France at Epcot, died Saturday, Jan. 20 in France. He would have turned 92 on Feb. 11.
Because of his restaurants at Epcot, Bocuse maintained a home in Central Florida, but had not visited for several years because of Parkinson’s disease. His son, Jérôme, is a resident of Central Florida and operates the Bocuse brand from here. His name was on a statement from the family posted on Paul Bocuse’s Facebook page announcing the death.
(Translated from French): “It is with great sorrow that we inform you of the death of Paul Bocuse. Our ‘Captain’ died on January 20th, at the dawn of his 92th birthday.
“Much more than a father and a husband, he is a man of heart, a spiritual father, an emblematic figure of world gastronomy, and a tricolore porte.
“Mr. Paul loved life, sharing, transmission, and his crew. These same values will continue to inspire us forever.” It was signed Mrs. Raymonde Bocuse, Mrs. Françoise Bocuse-Bernachon, Mr. Jérôme Bocuse.
The significance of Bocuse’s contribution to the culinary culture and especially to the awareness of chefs today can’t be overstated. If it weren’t for Bocuse, there very likely would be no such thing as “Top Chef.” He was the first celebrity chef.
That’s because, in 1965, he did something no chef had ever done: He put his own name on his restaurant in Collonges-au-Mont-d’Or just outside Lyon. Before that, Bocuse told me in 1996, chefs were no more than hired kitchen help. The restaurants were owned by the maitre d’ or the hotels where they were located. It’s hard to imagine in a world proliferated by show kitchens that the cooks were almost always relegated to the basements and were never seen by the diners.