The lauded French chef—whose restaurants around the world held 31 Michelin stars among them—died of cancer on Monday.

Maria Yagoda
August 06, 2018

French newspaper Le Figaro reports today that famed French chef Joël Robuchon died of cancer on Monday, August 6, at 73 years old. He was in Geneva, Switzerland at the time.

In 1990, Robuchon was declared "Chef of the Century" by the Gault et Millau cooking guide, and he lived up to that title. Opening outposts around the world in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok, and more cultural capitals, the French chef had 31 Michelin stars spread among his restaurants—more than any other chef in history.

Robuchon, who mentored chefs like Éric Ripert and Gordon Ramsay, opened a culinary school in a historic monastery in Montmorillon, France in 2018, so he could give back to the culinary community. 

"As of a certain age, it becomes our role and our responsibility to transmit this knowledge we've amassed," he told Food & Wine in 2016. "For me, the biggest satisfaction is to see young people that have worked with me in the past be successful in their own right; It's very important."

The food world is already mourning the loss of the French chef, who has been an industry leader for decades.

"A very sad day for any of us in our industry and for the millions of other who were touched by this amazing man," Andrew Zimmern tweeted. "When I was 23 I almost crapped myself being part of a team cooking him a birthday dinner in NYC. Over the years he was beyond kind to me."

Among his celebrated restaurants, the dish Robuchon was perhaps most known for was his pomme purée: super silky, buttery mashed potatoes. And there was no better embodiment of the simple, deeply thoughtful style of cooking for which he was so respected than these heavenly potatoes. In 2016, he summed up his cooking philosophy for Food & Wine.

"I very rarely do anything more than three main flavors on any dish," he said. "And what's important in cooking, to me, is the taste. And I think that's the true job of a chef, to create this flavor profile, these flavors of each of the dishes, and I think that that takes a lot of technique and a lot of knowledge to do correctly."