Joël Robuchon and the Quest for Perfection

Yesterday the French government reported that Joël Robuchon, the most Michelin-starred chef on the planet, had died from complications related to pancreatic cancer. He was 73. By most accounts, Robuchon was a tyrant in the kitchen, a madman obsessed with perfection, and a genius. Pete Wells of the New York Times breaks Robuchon’s career into two parts: the culinary wunderkind who, at age 36, received his first Michelin star after opening Jamin in 1981 (and the maximum three stars only three years later), and the seasoned veteran who opened L’Atelier de Joél Robuchon in 2003, not caring what those Michelin critics thought, and redefined high-end dining. (This whole gastronomic experience where customers can pay thousands of dollars to sit on stools around a bar while chefs cook what they want? You can thank—or blame—Robuchon.)