French celebrity chef Joël Robuchon, who is credited with winning the most Michelin stars in the world, has died aged 73.
Robuchon died from cancer on Monday in Switzerland, Le Figaro says, more than a year after being treated for a pancreatic tumour.
Named the “Chef of the Century” in 1989, Robuchon operated a dozen restaurants across three continents.
At one point during his career he won 31 stars – more than any other chef.
He was renowned for his mashed potato dishes and owned restaurants in cities across the globe, including Tokyo, Bangkok, Shanghai, Monaco and Las Vegas.
He first made a name for himself at his Paris restaurant, called Jamin, in the early 1980s, and went on to mentor the likes of Gordon Ramsay and Éric Ripert.
He was renowned for his perfectionism and for using few ingredients, keeping preparation simple and moving away from the excesses of French nouvelle cuisine – a healthier form of cooking.
“The older I get, the more I realise the truth is: the simpler the food, the more exceptional it can be,” he told Business Insider in 2014.
“I never try to marry more than three flavours in one dish. I like walking into a kitchen and knowing that the dishes are identifiable and the ingredients within them easy to detect.”
Robuchon hosted several culinary shows on French TV and was the official chef of Euro 2016 in France, cooking for football stars including Neymar and Giroud.
He was awarded a rare “Chef of the Century” title by Michelin’s rival restaurant guide, Gault Millau, in 1989.
At the age of 50, Robuchon decided to retire – but not for long, as he returned a few years later with plans to open more affordable eateries inspired by Japanese sushi counters.
Last year, the French chef revealed he had lost more than a stone (27kg) in weight after ditching butter and oil from his diet to deal with high cholesterol, high blood pressure and high blood sugar.
Many in the gastronomy world have been paying tribute:
French government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux described Robuchon on Twitter as a “visionary leader” who would “continue to inspire a young generation of chefs”.
The culinary world has lost some of its biggest names over the past year following the deaths of celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain and American food critic Jonathan Gold.
In January France also mourned the loss of Paul Bocuse, known as the “pope” of French cuisine. Robuchon was seen attending his funeral in Lyon.
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