Just two months ago Benoit Violier’s Swiss restaurant, Restaurant de l’Hotel de Ville in Crissier, near Lausanne, was named the world’s best restaurant by La Liste, produced by the French tourism board using an algorithm based on all the other awards lists in the world, beating New York’s Per Se.
Today, the culinary world is mourning his loss after Violier, 44, appeared to take his own life at home the day before he was due to attend the release of 2016 French Michelin Guide in Paris.
Violier, named chef of the year by Gault et Millau in 2013, took over the kitchen four years ago after Philippe Rochat, who died in a cycling accident last year, stepped down. Restaurant de l’Hotel de Ville had the top accolade, 3 stars, in the Swiss edition of the Michelin guide, released last November.
Violier also ran his own cooking school.
His unexpected death drew tributes from some of France’s culinary greats, including octogenarian Paul Bocuse, who said: “Great chef, great man, gigantic talent. All our thoughts are with the family and friends of Benoit Violier.”
Grand chef, grand homme, gigantesque talent. Toutes nos pensées vont vers la famille et les proches de Benoit Violier.
— Paul Bocuse (@PaulBocuse) January 31, 2016
Pierre Gagnaire, owner of the eponymous Paris three start restaurant, one of the pioneers of modern French food and the 2015 best chef in the world recipient, said “My thoughts go out to the family of Benoît Violier. Very sad news about an extremely talented chef.”
Mes pensées vont à la famille de Benoît Violier. Une bien triste nouvelle pour un chef extrêmement talentueux…
— Pierre Gagnaire (@PierreGagnaire) January 31, 2016
Violier trained under ‘chef of the century” Joël Robuchon as well as his mentor, Rochat, and produced several cookbooks.
His death has reminded the culinary world of the suicide of another three-star chef Bernard Loiseau, then aged 52, in 2003, amid rumours he would lose a star, but this was not the case for Violier.
Even three-star chef Marc Veyrat made a rare excursion onto Twitter to say “The planet has been orphaned by this exceptional chef, Benoît Violier. I’m wiped out.”
After Violier took control of Restaurant de l’Hotel de Ville, Fine Dining Lovers made the following video about his restaurant and career:
Violier is survived by his wife, Brigitte.