A tribute to Benoît Violier who passed away today, age 44

My dear Benoît, no need to tell you how shocked I was tonight when I heared the terrible news…I actually still cannot believe what I read on the website letemps.ch: Le chef Benoît Violier a mis fin à ses jours…
Unreal, sad, unacceptable…But so true, so confronting…what a talent you were…was it the pressure of the 3 stars?? The continuous media exposure?? The financial burden of being part of the restaurant world elite?? Or were there personal problems??
At this time, no explanation has been given as to what pushed you over the edge, but here I am, with my desire to write to you and to so many of your colleagues, chefs who spend countless hours in their kitchen, giving their very best, yes, a big part of their lives and so much more to us, your customers.
Isn’t it time to go back to the roots of your profession. You were supposed to be chefs and chefs prepare food for their clients, they lead a brigade of young talents who, hopefully, will become tomorrow’s culinary leaders. Of course, you need to try to make a living and run a profitable operation too…and we all know how that becomes increasingly more difficult in a world of overregulation and ever more demanding clients.
But what is really going on? Chefs are no longer just chefs, no, these days you see them on the cover of magazine, in the newspapers, hell, even on Bloomberg and CNN… An interview here, some show cooking there…posing with celebrities…It’s all part of the job now. On and off planes to travel the world and to be exposed as some kind of a circus animal… All of this whilst incredibly high standards and the stars that go with it must be upheld back home…tables need to be filled, wines need to be sold, huge costs demand continuous revenu.
So is it a surprise that things like this happen? No, certainly not?? Can we do something about it, not sure…. I can only hope that chefs can find some peace of mind by returning to their kitchen, doing what they do best, cooking and creating divine dishes…Let’s take away a bit of the pressure, turn of the spotligths…let the madness stop.
And tomorrow? Well, tomorrow it’s going to be the same all over again…or not? Michelin 2016 in France surely will have a bitter aftertaste…
Au revoir Benoît, may you find the peace of mind you were looking for….you will be missed…

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