French culinary legend Paul Bocuse is being named Chef of the Century by the CIA (Culinary Institute of America), yet the 85-year-old says the real star is the customer, who, in his words, “runs the house.” Bocuse is credited with giving celebrity status to the career of chef.
Bocuse comes from a line of cooks on both sides of the family. His father worked in a “brigade,” as kitchen teams are known, and his parents once ran the then-modest auberge, which sits near the Saone River. Those are his roots, but his training came from the great masters, he said, Fernand Point in Vienne, and earlier at Lyon’s La Mere Brazier, then owned by Eugenie Brazier, the first woman to win three Michelin stars.
“There was rigor,” he said. “At La Mere Brazier, you had to wake up early and milk the cows, feed the pigs, do the laundry and cook …. It was a very tough school of hard knocks. Today, the profession has changed enormously. There’s no more coal. You push a button and you have heat.”
Though he turns out quintessentially French cuisine, Bocuse has a distinctly American entrepreneurial flair. He forged new ground by opening brasseries in Lyon and eventually around the world and, about two years ago, starting up two fast-food restaurants in Lyon.
Posted on 04/12/11 by Allison