Goodbye Bocuse: he invented modern cuisine

The Pope of the kitchen has disappeared at almost 92 years: the family of Paul Bocuse is receiving condolences from the whole world of cooking and as regards France from all authorities and characters. "Monsieur Paul was France" tweeted the Minister of the Interior, Gerard Collomb. But also from Italy come tweet moved like that of Davide Oldani: "The world is silent, in memory of my passage in your great kitchen. Thank you, Monsieur Paul. " In fact, the figure of Bocuse in his country of origin – far more sensitive than ours to haute cuisine – was considered superior to that of Gualtiero Marchesi in Italy. We are not even to list the public awards and those related to his work, even if he said that nothing had made him happier than the title of Meilleur Ouvrier de France – the top for a professional of any scope in homeland, ouvrier literally means 'worker' – which remains the only competition in which he had participated in 1961. It makes more sense to remember him, as well as extraordinary chef-patron, as the master of some of the current myths: Alain Ducasse, Joël Robuchon, Guy Savoy. And he made the teaching and culture of young talents one of the goals of his career. First with the Ecully institute, where chefs from all over the world have come for decades to learn the basics of French cuisine, then with two other brilliant ideas. In 1987, he founded the Bocuse d'Or revolutionary competition who took inspiration from the Olympics: a true gastronomic show with a two-year cycle for the selections and a final in Lyon. Then, in 2004, he established the Paul Bocuse Foundation for young talents.

 Paul Bocuse

A brief summary of his story: Bocuse was born in Collonges au Mont d'Or, near Lyon, on 11 February 1926. An only child, he comes from a family of chefs who goes back Seventeenth century so it is normal that after the war, start its apprenticeship in the best maisons. The fundamental passage is that to Pyramide of Lyon under the guidance of Fernand Point (myth for the time), where he teamed up with Pierre and Jean Troisgros: the brothers who subsequently pointed the way to a Marquis until then only host (cultured). In 1958, he returned home and took the lead in the family room: he immediately became a Michelin star. The following year he bought the Abbey de Collonges and moved the restaurant that took his name. It is the beginning of glory: in 1962 it takes the second star and three years after the third: since then for over 52 years it has never lost it. An absolute record. Here's what the Red wrote in the latest edition of the guide: "Temple of tradition, institution of old-fashioned service … Fashions pass but the restaurant-monument of the 'maître Paul' remains imperturbable in time. Always the usual presidential soup and … three Michelin stars from 1965 ! "

In the history of cooking, Bocuse will be remembered for two reasons. The first is that together with twelve colleagues – all Three Stars – 'extends' the manifesto of Nouvelle Cuisine . Total revolution, also influenced by the French '68 and urged by the two critics Henri Gault and Christian Millau (those of the famous guide) who were impressed by the culinary vision of Monsieur Paul. So much so that even today, the guide celebrates it as 'chef of the century' together with Fredy Girardet and Joel Robuchon. It can be said that the ten rules of the manifesto (published in 1973) have changed the kitchen and ultimately you hear the echoes 45 years later, especially for the creative space given to the chefs and the desire to make lighter dishes. Here they are: 1) You will not cook too much; 2) You will use fresh and quality products; 3) Lighten up your menu; 4) You will not be systematically modernist; 5) You will however seek the contribution of new techniques; 6) You will avoid marinades, frollature, fermentations, etc. 7) You will eliminate the rich sauces and sauces; 8) You will not ignore dietetics; 9) Do not make up the presentation of your dishes; 10) You will be inventive.

The second merit of Bocuse is the exaltation at the highest levels of Cuisine du Marché – told in a book with 150 recipes that in the various reprints has sold over 250 thousand copies – where traces the immortal rules for those who blindly believe in seasonality and daily shopping. Here is an illuminating passage: "Every morning – it's a Lyonese tradition that would be very difficult to give up – I go to the market and wander around the banks for a long time. By shopping in person, I know that a farmer has excellent cockles, that another is the spinach specialist and that a third brought this delicious goat cheese this morning. Sometimes I have no idea what dishes I will cook for lunch at noon: the market decides. And it is this, I think, that makes good food ".

 Plate Paul Bocuse

Nationalist to the limits of chauvinism, he watched carefully the various cuisines, in particular the Italian one. He repeated in interviews that "The hegemony of French cuisine will last until the Italian chefs understand the enormous wealth they have at their disposal, both in terms of raw materials and the rich heritage of traditions". And in fact it took us, well ahead of its time. Excellent businessman – in this much higher than his dear friend Marchesi – had built a small empire of 15 million euro, where stood out over the five well-known pubs in Lyon where he was seen and enjoyed a lot talking with customers. But he was also a man of the world: when in '75 he received the Legion of Honor from Valery Giscard d'Estaing, he created the Zuppa with truffles in the new VGE – the initials of the President of the Republic – and for life he considered it the best dish when in reality it was one of the many masterpieces, often inspired by the masters of the past such as Carème and Escoffier. It was a leader, however, that welcomed people from all over the planet – VIPs, a sea of ​​colleagues but also many normal people waiting for a table for months – in the temple (in fact, decidedly self-congratulatory, but it was French doc) of Quai de la Plage 40. He was surrounded by one of the longest-running teams, with waiters and maitreks with over thirty years of service, in a world where everything changes very quickly. For him, as he often stated, "courage was loyalty. Loyalty to taste, to real flavors, good food, to real friends. To themselves ".

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