How Joel Robuchon earned more Michelin stars than any other chef

Joel Robuchon

The Telegraph recently sat down with Joël Robuchon, “the chef with more Michelin stars than any other and a temper that terrified even Gordon Ramsay” (at whom he once threw a plate). In an in-depth intervew Robuchon discussed his background and the challenges of being a high-end chef who isn’t afraid to take on the establishment. 

Among the highlights we found especially interesting were:

  • One of the things that has kept him at the top for nigh-on 40 years is his legendary attention to detail…Whenever he descends on one of his periodic tours of inspection, ripples of fear pass down the corridors.”
  • He received his inspiration to cook while studying in a seminary – which he entered at the age of 12: “But once there, Robuchon found he was more interested in sitting in the kitchen watching nuns cut up vegetables than he was in his Bible studies. “I’d help them top and tail beans. The nuns were always very nice to me. They were the only women I saw, and there was something very maternal about it. I think I grew up with the idea that there was something comforting about preparing food.”
  • He’s won numerous awards and accolades, including being named chef of the century and having one of his restaurants rated as the best in the world – but his signature dish is mashed potatoes, which has just four ingredients: potatoes, butter, salt, and milk.
  • He chucked it all at 50 (he’d never been out of kitchen long enough to see snow), but then came out of retirement to rail against traditional gastronomic restaurants, where flavor isn’t the most important criteria, and start a new chain of L’Ateliers.
  • He insists that London, not Paris, is the gastronomic capital of the world.

We’re not sure we’d want to work for him, but Robuchon makes definitely for a fascinating interview – it’s definitely worth reading.

Photo: Rebecca Marshall

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