7 Top French Chefs of All Times

French cuisine is among the most interesting cuisines in the world today. It is one of the oldest and most stylish cuisine out there. And this is partly due to the wonderfully brilliant and amazing French chefs that have made innovations and breakthroughs in the French culinary world. Now here are the seven top French chefs that have had huge contiributions in the history of French cuisine.

7. Bernard Loiseau

Bernard Loiseau was born on January 13, 1951. He first got interested in the culinary arts when he was a teenager. At that time, he was an apprentice of the famous Troigros brothers in Roane at their equally famous restaurant La Maison Troigros for about three years. He was among the biggest supporters of the simpler and more delicate dishes of Nouvelle Cuisine, and his restaurant La Côte d’Or was among the most sought after dining places in France. In fact, he was such an icon of the said style that many believe he inspired the character “Auguste Gusteau” in the highly popular animated movie “Ratatouille”. Sadly though, he committed suicide on February 24, 2003 due to depression caused by his restaurant being downgraded in the Gault Millau guide and being threatened with the removal of one star in the Michelin guide.

6. Joël Robuchon

Joël Robuchon was born on April 7, 1945 in Poitiers, France. He is considered to be among the best and most influential chefs in the world today. In fact, he has been given the Meilleur Ouvrier de France award in 1976 and declared by Gault Millau as the Chef of the Century. As with most famous chefs, he has a chain of popular restaurants, most of which have been awarded Michelin stars, and has also published several cookbooks. His restaurants can be found in major cities around the world. Moreover, he is the mentor of the equally awesome chefs Gordon Ramsay, Eric Ripert, and Michael Caines.

5. Paul Bocuse

Paul Bocuse was born on February 11, 1926. Bocuse is among the proponents of Nouvelle Cuisine and has made significant contributions to French cuisine throughout his career. He was the inventor of the famous truffle soup and has founded the internationally famed Bocuse d’Or, a world chef championship that happens every two years in Lyon, France. According to TIME Magazine, Bocuse is the “grumpy pope of French cuisine” due to the many significant culinary heritage and innovations he has contributed to the world of French cuisine. There are even rumors that he may be about to receive the “Chef of the Millennium” award this year from the culinary Institute of America.

4. Georges Auguste Escoffier

Georges Auguste Escoffier was born on October 28, 1846. Escoffier is among the most notable names in the history of French cuisine. He has been credited by some as one of the founders of modern French cuisine because he was the first to simplify the traditional way of cooking in France. He published many famous cookbooks and invented the delectable dessert we call “peach melba”, which he made in honor of Australian soprano Nellie Melba. Of all his achievements in French cuisine, perhaps the most significant one was his collaboration with the famous Cesar Ritz of Hotel Ritz. He ran the restaurants in several Hotel Ritz and established quite a name in Haute Cuisine as a result. In fact, has been dubbed the “Emperor of Chefs” by Kaiser Wilhelm II for his culinary genius. And in 1920 he was given the National Order of the Legion of Honour, among the highest accolades awarded in France, for his influence and accomplishments in the culinary arts.

3. Marie-Antoine Carême

Marie-Antoine Carême was born on June 8, 1784, which was around the time of the infamous French revolution. He was dubbed the “chef of kings” because his services were most often requested by French society’s elites, even including Napoleon Bonaparte. He was also called the “king of chefs” because he was considered to be the biggest influence of Haute Cuisine in the history of France. He started out as a kitchen helper in a restaurant and then as an apprentice to the pastry chef. It was as a pastry chef apprentice that he started experimenting with elaborate food presentations that made him quite popular among France’s high society. By the time he was in his twenties, he was cooking for a French diplomat and a couple of foreign kings. In his lifetime, Carême modernized and organized the kitchen, wrote several cookbooks with hundreds of recipes, designed the standard chef’s hat, invented new sauces and categorized them, and wrote tutorials on his elaborate pastry sculpture

s. For Carême, presentation is as important as the food that’s being served.

2. François Massialot

François Massialot was among the first popular French chefs in French cuisine history. He was thought to be born sometime in the year 1660 in Limoges, a city in west-central France. He was the chef of several members of the French nobility including Marquis de Louvois, Philippe 1, and Philippe II. Massialot was quite proud of the fact that he cooked for French nobles and even considered himself as some sort of royalty in the world of French cuisine. His most influential contribution to French cuisine are his cookbooks, which were translated into English in 1702 and had been used by other professional chefs until the 1900s. It was also in his cookbooks that crême brulée and meringue recipes first appeared in print.

1. Guillaume Tirel

Guillaume Tirel, more popularly known as Taillevent, was born in the year 1310 in a place called Pont-Audemer, which is somewhere in northern France. Tirel was the chef of the royal French court from the reign of Philip VI until Charles VI. His biggest contribution to French cuisine was the cookbook Charles V commissioned him to compile. It had all the recipes of the food he served in court during his years as head chef. The cookbook was entitled Le Viandier and was, according to experts, the first cookbook in the history of French cuisine. Another influence attributed to Tirel was the consumption of red wines produced in Burgundy and the south of France. By the time of his death he was cooking for Charles VI under the title Head of the Royal Kitchens.

Do you recognize any of the chefs mentioned in this list? Are you a fan of any of them? Well, fan or not, you cannot deny the great influence these men have contributed on the great art of French cooking. It is mostly due to them that French cuisine has become the exquisite tradition that it is today.

 

French Culinary Revolution

Being genuinely interested in the history of French cuisine, I have recently researched how the French Revolution, in general, and the personality of Napoleon Bonaparte, in particular, influenced the culinary future of France. Even now, two centuries later, many gourmet innovations brought forth by both the Revolution and the glorious conquests of “Empereur des Francais Napoléon I”, have not lost their popularity among connoisseurs of French cuisine from all over the world.

Historical chronicles show that Napoleon Bonaparte, apparently, loved good food and ate well… His reign in the beginning of the 18th century witnessed the refinement and rise of modern-style French cooking, which was enriched by Napoléon Pastries, Chicken Marengo, and Lobster Thermidor. The famous layered Napoléon Pastries, also known as Napoléons, were created by chef Marie-Antonin Careme, who is often referred to as the father of gourmet French cuisine. Careme is also famous for their invention of puffy “chefs’ hats” and the introduction of soufflés into French cuisine of the Napoleon era.

At the same time, that period was also noted for the onset of some questionable methods of cooking and preserving food, such as canning  – a truly revolutionary way to supply French troops fighting in Prussia and Russia with “quality ration”. During early military campaigns of Napoleon, scurry, starvation, and malnutrition were raging among his soldiers. Later, one of the first celebrity chefs of France, Nicolas Appert, invented the method of boiling bottled or canned food in water to stop its spoilage, for which the French government awarded him with a prize of 12,000 francs. His first commercial cannery established in Paris became a thriving business, even though the opening methods of these early preserves were far from modern. Usually, soldiers had to just smash the “cans” open with heavy rocks…

When Napoleon became a dictator of France, he also introduced a strict control over the food prices, which was a good measure to make basic staple foods accessible for the masses. The lessons of the French revolution led by hunger were obviously still fresh!