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l’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Paris

l’Atelier de Joël Robuchon

Joël Robuchon was never meant to be a chef. In fact, he intended to become a priest. Born into a modest, Catholic family of five children in Poitiers, to a stonemason father and housewife mother, he entered the seminary at twelve. However, when his parents were unable to keep up with their youngest son’s tuition fees, Robuchon turned in his bnlack clergyman’s robes and invested in a set of chef’s whites, deciding to dedicate his life to cooking and, at fifteen, took on an apprenticeship at Relais de Poitiers. At twenty-one (1966), he joined les Compagnons du Tour de France; a role that entailed travelling around France working with different master chefs and introduced him to different regional cuisines, produce and techniques. It was during this period that he worked with Jean Delaveyne at le Berkeley, whom Robuchon would later name his greatest teacher. After seven years, he was hired as head chef at Hôtel Harmony La Fayette in Paris where he had to turn out three hundreds meals a day. Robuchon discovered Japanese cooking in the seventies and, after winning the MOF in 1976, Bocuse invited him to teach pver there. The simplicity and technique he witnessed impressed and stayed with him ever since, as did an affection for the Far East. After his return to France, he was head chef at Les Celebrités in Hôtel Nikko, before opening his own restaurant, Jamin, in 1981. His success here was immediate and immense. As it smashed Michelin records, winning its first star after three months then all three in three years, Jamin became a legend and set Robuchon up as a first among equals, a position Gault Millau corroborated by naming him ‘Cuisinier du Siecle’ in 1990. Eventually, in 1993, he moved from the original Jamin site to a larger space at the Hôtel Le Parc on avenue Raymond Poincaré.
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