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Thread: 'World's best chef' Benoit Violier dies aged 44

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    Default 'World's best chef' Benoit Violier dies aged 44

    'World's best chef' dies aged 44

    BBC News
    13 hrs ago



    (© AP) Benoit Violier's work was recognised by the French government last year


    Chef Benoit Violier, whose Swiss restaurant was named the best in the world in December, has been found dead at his home.

    Mr Violier, 44, ran the Restaurant de l'Hotel de Ville in Crissier, near the city of Lausanne.

    It earned three Michelin stars and came top in France's La Liste ranking of the world's 1,000 best eateries.

    Swiss police said Mr Violier, who was born in France, is believed to have killed himself.

    The Swiss news website 24 Heures said (in French) that Mr Violier had been due to attend the launch of the new Michelin guide in Paris on Monday.

    His death comes some six months after that of Philippe Rochat, his mentor and predecessor at the Restaurant de l'Hotel de Ville.

    Having worked at the restaurant since 1996, Mr Violier took it over along with his wife Brigitte in 2012, before obtaining Swiss nationality.

    A keen hunter, he was known for signature dishes including game and produced a weighty book on game meat last year.

    Accepting the French award, given by France's foreign ministry as an alternative to the World's Best 50 Restaurants prize, he said it was an "exceptional" honor.

    Swiss chef Fredy Girardet, who also received three Michelin stars, told 24 Heures that he was "dumbfounded" by the news.

    "He was a brilliant man," he said. "Such talent, and an amazing capacity for work. He was so kind, with so many qualities. He gave the impression of being perfect."

    French chef Pierre Gagnaire tweeted: "My thoughts go out to Benoit Violier's family. Very sad news about an extremely talented chef."


    Rest in Peace Benoit Violier.

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    'World's best chef' Benoît Violier mourned by his peers

    'World's best chef' Benoît Violier mourned by his peers

    The Guardian
    Kim Willsher 14 hrs ago


    To all appearances, Benoît Violier, the star French-Swiss chef found dead at his home on Sunday, had everything going for him.

    He was recognized and respected by his peers and, at 44 – relatively young in the world of haute cuisine – already a restaurateur of world renown.

    Last December, his three Michelin-starred Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville in Crissier was named the world’s best restaurant by La Liste, a French-led listing based on a compilation of food guides and reviews. The influential Gault et Millau restaurant guide named him chef of the year.

    Le Figaro declared him the “world’s best chef”, a distinction he received with modesty.

    “You can set up all the listings in the world … what’s important in the end is the customer,” he said at the time. “It’s the customer who comes back, who judges and who gives the truth.”

    Two months before the accolade, his 1,000-page cookery book on hunting, preparing and cooking wild fowl was published to critical acclaim, with one veteran chef describing it as the “bible” of its subject.

    But Swiss police believe Violier shot himself with his hunting rifle at the weekend. His death has stunned those who knew him, with France’s leading lights of gastronomy lining up to pay tribute.

    Marc Veyrat, a celebrated three-star chef, said he was “destroyed” by news of Violier’s death. “The planet has been left orphaned by this exceptional chef,” Veyrat wrote on Twitter.

    In an interview with the Swiss newspaper Le Matin, Veyrat added: “I met him several times and he seemed happy, strong. He had everything going for him. He’d just done a magnificent book on hunting, he was doing so many things. Perhaps he couldn’t ease up, but I can’t say why, who knows why?”

    Veyrat added: “Cooking is a high-pressured job. People don’t realise how much. It’s one of the few jobs where one is judged and marked all the time. What other profession would accept being constantly evaluated?”

    Pierre Gagnaire, another three-star Michelin chef, who was named by his peers as the “biggest star chef in the world” and who has restaurants in Paris, London, Tokyo, Dubai, Moscow and Berlin as well as Sketch in London, added: “Terribly sad news for an extremely talented chef.”

    Paul Bocuse, named “chef of the century” by the food guide Gault et Millau and the Culinary Institute of America, said of Violier: “A grand chef, a grand man, a gigantic talent.”

    Frédy Girardet, a friend of Violier and his wife Brigitte, and another three-star titan of Swiss haute cuisine who had previously run the restaurant in Crissier, said he was “completely stunned”.

    He told the Tribune de Genève: “I can see no motive for such an act. He was a brilliant young man, with enormous talent and an impressive work potential. He gave the impression of being perfect. This news is so sad.”

    If it is confirmed that Violier killed himself, he will not be the first to have cracked under the demands of maintaining the gastronomic excellence demanded by powerful restaurant guides such as Michelin and Gault et Millau, customers and the food critics.

    A Michelin star or three – the maximum that can be awarded – or a 20/20 from the Gault et Millau can bring international glory, but the pressure to maintain the rating can be intense.



    (© Marcel Gillieron/AFP Photo) Benoît Violier was found dead at his home.


    In 2003, the food world was shocked by the suicide of Bernard Loiseau, 52, a three-star chef who was reportedly distraught about criticism of his restaurant, La Côte d’Or, in Burgundy, France, and rumours that he would lose his third star.

    Violier’s death came hours before the French gastronomic bible, the Michelin Red Guide, the oldest European hotel and restaurant guide whose star rating can make or break a restaurant, unveiled its 2016 French edition. Violier had retained his three stars when the latest Swiss edition of the guide was announced in November.

    Before the ceremony started on Monday, those gathered stood for a minute’s silence in honour of Violier, but there were echoes of the earlier tragedy when it was revealed that Loiseau’s restaurant, run by his wife Dominique since his death 13 years ago, had lost one of its three stars.

    Veyrat, who sold one of his establishments, the three-star Auberge de l’Eridan in Annecy, “for health reasons” and whose restaurant, La Maison du Bois in the French Alps, burned down last March, said he did not blame influential guides such as Michelin for the pressure, suggesting much of it was self-imposed.

    “We are happy to have three stars. I gave up the evaluations and gave back my stars when I opened my last restaurant, but when it reopens I want to go chasing stars again. Because without the evaluations, the guide books, we feel orphaned. We complain about being marked, then we complain when we are not. We chefs are passionate madmen, mad with happiness.”

    Violier, the son of a wine grower from the Charente-Maritime departement in south-west France, joined the kitchen team at the Crissier restaurant in 1996. A year later, the chef Philippe Rochat took over the restaurant and in 1998 was awarded three Michelin stars.

    Rochat retired in 2012. Violier and his wife then took over running the restaurant. The two men were close; Violier regarded Rochat as his mentor and a second father. He was doubly devastated when his father died in April last year, and Rochat, 61, died three months later after falling ill while out cycling.

    “It’s like a curse,” Veyrat said of the Crissier. “Can it survive this new drama? I think so. There are some super chefs in Benoît Violier’s establishment. He knew how to create a strong human environment, which will continue to live … I remember having youngsters who’d worked for him come to me. They were all so happy to be there, so enthusiastic to work for a great chef.”

    In an interview in December 2014 with the Swiss television channel RTS, a smiling Violier said the stress of haute cuisine was “necessary” to maintain standards.

    “It’s my life,” he said. “I go to sleep with cooking, I wake up to cooking.”

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