“It’s like we’ve lost a father.”
Those were the words of staff at one of Paul Bocuse’s restaurants in Lyon after it emerged the celebrated chef had died aged 91.
Bocuse — nicknamed the pope of French gastronomy — passed away on Saturday at L'Auberge du Pont de Collonges, his eatery that has held three Michelin stars continuously for more than 50 years.
He was widely credited as a founder of French "nouvelle cuisine", a more delicate style of cooking that relied less on heavy sauces.
Staff at Brasserie L’Ouest, another of his Lyon restaurants, were quick to pay tribute to the culinary legend.
“For all the cooks who have worked with Paul Bocuse, we had the impression of being part of his family,” chef Charlie Dumas told Euronews.
“We keep in mind Paul Bocuse's generosity and kindness.
“We are thankful because he passed on his passion to us. And everything we know about this profession today is thanks to him.”
Paul-Maurice Maurel, director general of Bocuse’s Lyon restaurants, added: “It’s a day dedicated to his family, to the grieving of his teams and of all those who have been working behind our mentor.”
Bocuse, born near Lyon in 1926, was part of a family with a rich tradition: his ancestors had been restaurateurs for generations.
His education was ended abruptly by World War Two, when he left school to join the resistance movement.
L'Auberge du Pont de Collonges acquired its first Michelin star in 1961 when Bocuse was helping his father build up the business.
After it was awarded three stars in 1965 he went onto expand the business, opening restaurants in Tokyo, Singapore, New York and Florida, as well as in France, and in 1990 launched a schooling network for top chefs.