February 1, 2016

"I feel a heavy responsibility to be named number one," said the chef whose restaurant had just been named the best in the world.

"This ranking is a recognition of seriousness, of delivering the same fidelity and level of excellence from the beginning of January to the end of December... It’s a great tribute to the team.”

Said Benoît Violier of Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville, last December. Yesterday, they found him dead, apparently a suicide. He was 44.
The precise circumstances of Mr. Violier’s death remained unclear, but other top chefs have been pushed to suicide, buffeted by a high-pressure world that demands perfection and where culinary demigods can be demoted with the stroke of a pen.

29 comments:

Chuck said...

Not a suicide. He was murdered. By Beecham:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Who_Is_Killing_the_Great_Chefs_of_Europe%3F

traditionalguy said...

He went out at the top. Very dramatic presentation.

FullMoon said...
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Fernandinande said...

Good burgers, eh?

mccullough said...

Need to keep some humility and perspective of possible. Some people excel and handle success well others excel and don't/

tim maguire said...

mccullough said...Need to keep some humility and perspective of possible. Some people excel and handle success well others excel and don't/

I want to say he would have handled success better if success wasn't so important. But those people generally don't succeed in this field.

Gusty Winds said...

I can watch episode after episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. It fun to watch Guy Fieri high five and fist pump the cooks he interviews.

The competition shows are torture. They way the rip people for a flaw in a cup cake is ridiculous.

If the life these chefs live is trying to meet the expectations of Gordon Ramsay it doesn't sound very glamorous.

Levi Starks said...

Looks like there is a gender suicide gap in the world of haute cuisine.
I don't see how top women chefs can expect to reach the pinacle of success unless a few of them are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice.

JAORE said...

Oh the horror of the possibility of moving from number one down to simply one of the top ten in the world.

In point of fact, these ratings are ridiculous, subjective and reflect a self aggrandizing industry (there are many).

A shame someone of obvious talent gets so wrapped up in the ranking fluff that he can not endure the pressure.

Wilbur said...

Some people excel and handle success well others excel and don't.

Reminds me of Willard Hershberger.

J. Farmer said...

Both sets of my grandparents were restaunteurs. It's backbreaking work. I grew up very well fed, but I sure do miss the days when nobody gave a shit about chefs.

Paddy O said...

We want to be gods, but we're only human. The closer we get to such a goal the more we realize how far we are from the possibility of ever achieving it.

“For example,” Kierkegaard writes, “when the ambitious man whose slogan is ‘Either Caesar or nothing’ does not get to be Caesar, he despairs over it."

J. Farmer said...

Anytime I hear about someone who is obsessively devoted to perfection, I always just make the pop psychology assumption that they are masking some deep seated insecurity. Gordon Ramsay gets paid a lot of money to go on Fox and shout abuses he really wishes he could've shouted at his drunk father.

Guildofcannonballs said...

If any good can come of this, it is most likely this: stop taking yourself so damn seriously, for Christ's sake.

Think about other people and their struggles, not your own little self-referential fiefdoms of fealty to a tiny, soon forgotten God-of-Today called you.

GET THEE SATAN OUT!

AWAY I SAY: AWAY!!!

SOJO said...

Yes, an amazing chef is light years beyond regular eats, but in the end, it's food. You eat it. You enjoy it. You shit it out.

Who is there eating it with you and are you enjoying their company?

n.n said...
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n.n said...

And breathe...

If it was pressure-induced suicide, then the cause needs to be investigated. A failure to mature and balanced perspective has been a progressive source for midlife crises, dysfunctional relationships, aborted children, psychosomatic disorders, including, apparently, suicide.

hamiyam said...

the guy who perfected corn flakes or the big mac ...now, that's an accomplishment!

Curious George said...

I'm guessing one too many people asked for ketchup.

lgv said...

The solution to this problem is to mandate Soylent for everyone. If it only saves one chef's life, it is worth it.

BarrySanders20 said...

Obsessive people trying to please the arrogant and pretentious critic.

All to get the coveted star.

Wonder when the last time he cooked just for enjoyment.

coupe said...
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Geoff Matthews said...

I don't think you'd see many BBQ chefs committing suicide. Dying from heart disease, drug use, or violence, sure. But suicide?

Bay Area Guy said...

When I watch "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" on the Food Channel, I see mostly happy Chefs proud of their little restaurants and the hard work that does into them.

Dustin said...

I know this isn't what they mean at all when they say 'the perfect is the enemy of the good', but it works. I enjoy a great 4 star restaurant a heck of a lot more than a weird 5 star one. I bet they are more fun to work at. Everyone is enjoying their life making people happy with their cool meals, but it's also a routine. There's plenty of good ideas for specials, but it's a routine. It's not a celebrity thing, and it's not really about the reviews in the newspapers (and who reads those kinds of things anymore? We use reviews from real people instead of phony professionals!).

Even a genuine drunk can make an excellent steak that tops 95% of what you'll get at a 5 star restaurant, because the goodness came from nature. Food is art, but it's also just food.

Fabi said...

J. Farmer makes a good point. Many years ago as I first took an interest in fine food, you knew the names of the restaurants. A few decades back it became more prevalent to know the establishment and its chef - but you still had to be in the weeds a bit to know that Lagasse was the man at Commander's Palace. Now it's the chefs who have the following and often top billing.

The pressure comes from competing chefs, trends, reviews, and customers. It also comes from delivering at the highest level for every single cover. I can't imagine.

Michael K said...

Th best eating experience, if not the best food, was at Tour d"Argent in Paris.

I went back a couple of years later and tried to make a reservation but it was closed, temporarily for remodeling I understand.

The first time I was in Paris 30 years ago, I called to make a reservation and the matre d' laughed at me. He told me it would take at least 3 months to get one. That was when the French were nasty to Americans. Much changed when American tourism dropped off. The last few times, they have been much friendlier.

The prices, however, did not go down. Dinner for five was about 1500 Euros. The food was excellent and the view of Notre Dame was excellent.

coupe said...
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mikee said...

A suicide? Or was he just, so to speak, done?