paul bocuse – a generation of french cuisine

by Sharon Santoni

A few weeks ago,  Paul Bocuse, probably the most famous French chef, died at the age of 91.

It is said that he prepared his first great dish at the age of eight, which I have no trouble believing since he grew up in a family of cooks.    His whole life was dedicated to fine cuisine, with only a short interruption to his career during the second world war.

Today nobody is surprised when a chef becomes a celebrity, but Bocuse was a ground breaker in this regard.   As a young apprentice chef in the 1940’s and 50’s, he was part of a movement that was changing the face of French cuisine.    The heavy intricate sauces were being ousted in favour of a lighter method of cooking, where each ingredient was valued for its individual flavour.  This movement would eventually be called ‘nouvelle cuisine’.

Bocuse was not the only chef working for change, but he was the first to grab headlines, and most importantly to understand how to use the limelight to further his career.

At his flagship restaurant , the Auberge du Pont de Collonges, near Lyon in the centre of France, he has proudly held on to three michelin stars for more than fifty years , a unique achievement.

His most well known dish is his truffle soup, that he famously serves in individual bowls topped with a lid of golden pastry.   If you read the recipe, he gives careful instructions on how to break into the pastry crust to release the incredible perfume of the truffle below.

I am sorry to say that I have never eaten at his restaurant.   We wanted to go last summer and plans didn’t come together, but his cook book, la Cuisine du Marché,  is very well worn on my bookshelves, and bears an air of authority over the other more recent volumes.

It is to Monsieur Bocuse that I owe the popularity of Creme Caramel in our family.   He explains in his book the importance of the yolks as well as the whole eggs to make the perfect texture.  If you’d like to see the recipe that I use, just click here.

What I love most about Bocuse is that he embodies the French passion for excellence and savoir-faire.   That it is worthwhile spending time on the details and striving for the very best.

Au Revoir Monsieur Bocuse et merci.

 

27 comments

Connie Larkin February 15, 2018 - 3:38 pm

This is a very nice tribute to this wonderful man. The picture of the inside of his restaurant is so very similar to our own Cafe Bel Ami here in Wichita Kansas USA. The food there is also wonderful! Your article on St. Paul de Vence inspired me so, that my girlfriend and I will be traveling there this coming July, and we are so excited! The beauty in your blog soothes the soul,
je vous remercie…

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Diane February 15, 2018 - 6:52 pm

I also live in Wichita, Kansas. Love Cafe Bel Ami. We are so lucky and actually spoiled with lovely expert cuisine in what “the coasts” assume is a place of obscurity. Our best kept secret. Thank you for recognizing this lovely man with this story of recognition.

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Taste of France February 15, 2018 - 4:07 pm

He created the famous soup for Valèry Giscard d’Estaing, then president, and called it Soupe V.G.E. The truffles replaced potatoes, which is probably a good substitution!
He was quite a character. I wrote a bit about his life.
He also said, “I like butter, cream and wine.”
Yes.

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Kaye Wiiiams, Texas February 15, 2018 - 4:25 pm

Having been fortunate to have dined there many years ago with a group of friends. He was most generous in giving us a tour of the kitchen. One of the most memorable meals and trip to France.
Yes, truly a great chef.

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Sharon E February 15, 2018 - 4:34 pm

The restaurant looks beautiful and probably matches the food. Look! No TV! Imagine a chance to talk with your companions.

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Valorie February 15, 2018 - 4:35 pm

Thank you! This is a lovely tribute. I’m sad to say I only learned about this fascinating man and chef after his passing. The photos are wonderful… look at the shine on those copper pans! That restaurant is so beautiful. I wish I’d experienced his restaurant in person. Rest in Peace Chef!

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Lucia Donahower February 15, 2018 - 5:05 pm

Sharon
Thank you for honoring such a great chef.
Have a wonderful day!
Lucy in California

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Elle Philippe February 15, 2018 - 6:20 pm

What a beautiful and collective tribute my dear Sharon. Thank you, I myself thank Mr Paul for his savoir faire et bon vivant that he was and through his books he will always remembered.

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Colleen Taylor February 15, 2018 - 6:25 pm

Sharon, this is truly a wonderful tribute to a well known and talented chef. Such an elegant restaurant this is. Thank you for the delicious crème caramel recipe.X

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JANET COREY February 15, 2018 - 8:47 pm

I HAVE NOT RECEIVED MY FEBRUARY BOX

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JANET February 15, 2018 - 8:48 pm

MY BOX, WHERE IS IT?

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Sharon Santoni February 16, 2018 - 3:28 pm

Hello Janet, the boxes are shipping Monday and will arrive to you a few days after that. We usually ship the 2nd or 3rd week of the month. You will receive a tracking email with all the details in the next few days. Thank you.

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Shelagh February 18, 2018 - 5:43 pm

That is what i thought too.Should have sent a private email. Very rude way of asking for info.

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Betsy Dorman February 16, 2018 - 5:52 pm

How rude to ask in this fashion!

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Nadiya D from WeHo February 15, 2018 - 10:23 pm

I only recently learned about Chef Bocuse from Anthony Bordain’s CNN episode “Parts unknown in Leon”, and only a few weeks ago I was reading Time magazine when I saw an article mentioning his death. What a dedication and love for fine cuisine. Hope one day to make something delicious from his cookbook.
Thank you for a wonderful tribute to this amazing Chef.

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Melissa Hebbard February 16, 2018 - 12:56 am

Thank you for this tribute to an amazing and influential chef. I hadn’t heard about his passing. Media is so full of the comings and goings of minor celebrities that they overlook people whose lives actually made an impact or importance on the World! Our cuisine is all the richer for Paul Bocuse having been in the World. I note that he, like Julia and Paul Child lived into his 90s despite his love or because of his love of cream, butter and wine. Maybe this is the real secret to a long life, it certainly the secret for a happy life!

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Lisajane Koea February 16, 2018 - 4:52 am

I would love to try that soup,and what a lovely piece about him.
My Son is just starting his journey into Chefdom with his first official job after training.
It’s a hard life but I think creative and rewarding.
It’s so hot and humid here at the moment and the tail end of a tropical cyclone heading our way after the weekend and causing much damage in the Pacific.
I think it missed Neumea
I shall have to hole up with my favourite books ( yours are in there of course,and do some cooking )
Your place looks very picturesque with the snow .
Bye for now from NZ
LJ x

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Parisbreakfast February 16, 2018 - 6:21 am

Bocuse was such an extraordinary man. I had the great pleasure to meet and work with him on several occasions including an invite to his MOF luncheon in Lyon in ’94. He showed me his parent’s little grocery store in fact…very proud pf his humble beginnings. I owned one of those soup bowls but sadly left it behind in New York when I moved to Paris. Quelle idiot! Exceedingly kind man. Unforgettable. He enhanced many lives mine included.

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Alma February 17, 2018 - 1:07 am

Congratulations for the great chef!!

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Marie Ballon February 17, 2018 - 12:51 pm

Tjank you, dear Sharon for this warm tribute. I also had bought the book “La cuisine du marché” de P.B. Everyone,respectful of themselves and of good food did so in Belgium in those days. Unfortunately I have made only a few recipes from the book as I was heavily into books like “The receipts from Mother Earth” and the cookbooks by Bircher Benner and the like. I wanted to keep my children as healthy as could be because I myself had had quite a lot of liver related digestive questions. I was successful: they never were sick. Never. At the end I was sick of all this “excès de zèle” and I’ve rapidly taken up la bonne chère again. Thank you for your recipes. Thank you for the good vibes you so generously produce and share from your beautiful home. I ‘ve been reading your blog for years. Thank you.

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Florence Brown February 17, 2018 - 9:24 pm

Sharon=I am an experienced. I tried to make your recipe for a French guest and could not the sugar and water to carmelize. Just turned into white hard lump. What did I do wrong?

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Aisling February 19, 2018 - 6:11 am

Hi Florence, i have not yet made this recipe but have made caramel before. The secret is do not stir! You have to have faith it will caramelise without sticking to the bottom – The sugar needs to fully dissolve and turn quite brown.

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sharon santoni February 19, 2018 - 10:54 am

HI Florence, so sorry to hear that the caramel went wrong. I’m not sure what happened?! First be sure you are using ordinary white sugar, not a sugar with pectin for making jam.
I simply put the sugar and water into the pan, allow the water to soak into the sugar and start dissolving, then turn on a gently heat. Once all the sugar crystals are dissolved you can turn the heat up but watch it like a hawk!
You are aiming for a golden toffee colour, not too dark. If the caramel burns it is bitter and quite inedible
hope that helps

Sharon
x

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hedi patrick February 17, 2018 - 10:57 pm

On June 13th, 1979, I had lunch at Paul Bocuse’s Auberge au Pont de Collonges. My trip notes tell me I had the trout in crust stuffed with lobster souffle and a lemon tart with layers of jelly. Monsieur Bocuse came out of the kitchen and visited with each of the tables to comment on their selections. He was a most gracious giant.

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sharon santoni February 19, 2018 - 10:59 am

Hi Hedi

I love that you have trip notes that include details of your meal! You are the organised person that I only dream of being ! 🙂

Sharon

x

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Diego Lopes February 20, 2018 - 9:01 pm

Loved this tribute! He seems like a wonderful chef and a remarkable personality!

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nicks February 27, 2018 - 10:48 am

Thanks so much for the post.Much thanks again. Really Cool.

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