Eight Days (26 January 2018)

- You will no doubt have read that Chef Paul Bocuse died. At 91, it was a good innings. I have pored over the many articles written about Bocuse this week, seeking to find us something beyond his resumé. (To that end, I thought the NYTimes had the best summary of his achievements. For something a little more personal, the New Yorker called on Bill Buford, author of Heat, publishing an excerpt from his new book recounting his first meeting with Bocuse at Les Halles.)
You will know Bocuse was one of the bastions of nouvelle cuisine, a cooking style that signalled the departure from the rich, traditional sauces to the lighter more produce-focused style. When nouvelle cuisine began to dwindle Bocuse dumped it quicker than a hot potato. He personified the French coq, going so far as to have the rooster tattooed on his upper left arm. (Apparently, he was also a bit of a coq out of the kitchen too, charmingly alerting the world to the two mistresses he kept through his life via his autobiography.) He had a restaurant in Disneyland. He sold pots and pans with his signature on them. This was a guy who clearly liked to play the game.

That said, Bocuse was a fighter. A seventh (perhaps eighth?) generation chef, he fought to buy back the family restaurant and indeed the family name they had sold with it. His restaurant Auberge du Pont de Collonges has held 3 Michelin stars since 1965. His is an impressive resumé.
However, it was the story of Eugénie Brazier, in whose kitchen Bocuse first trained, that captivated me more than his. Brazier was the first woman to receive three Michelin stars in France. She was the first person ever to receive six. Never heard of her?! Neither had I.
I have changed that by reading this beautiful article. You should too.