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Legendary nouvelle cuisine pioneer Pierre Troisgros dies aged 92

Fiachra Gibbons

Agence France-Presse

Lyon, France  /  Thu, September 24, 2020  /  01:30 pm
Legendary nouvelle cuisine pioneer Pierre Troisgros dies aged 92

French cooks Pierre Troisgros (left) and Paul Bocuse (right) talk in front of the court in Villefranche-sur-Saone where they attended the Georges Duboeuf Company trial on April 4, 2006. (AFP/Philippe Merle)

Pierre Troisgros, the legendary French chef and head of the country's greatest gastronomic dynasty, died on Wednesday aged 92, his restaurant told AFP.

The chef and his brother Jean helped found the nouvelle cuisine movement, with their signature salmon with sorrel dish copied the world over.

Troisgros is the third great French chef to have died in two years, with his life-long friend Paul Bocuse and the world's most starred chef, Joel Robuchon, both passing away in 2018.

The Michelin guide called him "a giant who was the equal of Bocuse, with whom he revolutionized cooking.

"His name will continue to shine bright," it added.

Troisgros and his son Michel have held the maximum three Michelin stars since 1968 -- making the provincial town of Roanne in central France a place of pilgrimage for gastronomes.

The same year the Gault & Millau guide proclaimed their hotel restaurant the best in the world, an honor again bestowed by the Zagat guide in 2007.

"We have a heavy heart this evening," tweeted the Paul Bocuse restaurant near Lyon, founded by Troisgros' friend, who was known at the "Pope of French cuisine".

Although Pierre Troisgros had long stepped back from the stove, he was a jovial presence at the family's hotel until they quit their ancestral restaurant opposite Roanne's train station three years ago for the neighboring village of Ouches.

The new restaurant, which has held onto its three Michelin stars, is now run by Michel and his son Cesar.

He is the fourth generation of the Troisgros clan to preside over the kitchen, which wowed its first customers in 1930 when his great grandparents took over a hotel on a strategic stopping off point on the National 7 road that led from Paris to the Mediterranean beaches.

Read also: 'Pope' of French cuisine Paul Bocuse dies age 91

Born to cook

Pierre Troisgros and his brother Jean picked up their first cooking lessons from their mother Marie while their father Jean-Baptiste ran the dining room of their Hotel Moderne.

With Jean, he then served his apprenticeship in some of the best restaurants of the era, forming an enduring bond with Bocuse when they worked together in Paris as young chefs.

Their father called the brothers back home in 1953 to take over the business, and they won their first Michelin star two years later.

The trio formed a formidable team, with Pierre in charge of the cooking and Jean the sauces, while their father took care of the service and the restaurant's renowned wine cellar, most of which came from the neighboring Burgundy region.

In the early 1970s, the brothers were at the vanguard of the movement to lighten sauces and give vegetables a more starring position on the plate. 

The trend would later be dubbed "nouvelle cuisine" (new cooking), with the Troisgros also among the first French chefs to travel to Japan and be influenced by the way fish was cooked there.

Troisgros' cooking was known for simplicity and creativity, two characteristics that rarely go together in the highly competitive world of haute cuisine. 

Jean Troisgros died of a heart attack while playing tennis in 1983.

Pierre Troisgros' two other children are also both restaurateurs, son Claude in Brazil and daughter Anne-Marie in Bordeaux, southwest France.

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