Paul Bocuse was honored this week as the Chef of the Century at The Culinary Institute of America’s (CIA) fifth annual Augie™ Awards at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square in New York City.
“Paul Bocuse was the culinary equivalent of Elvis Presley—a source of great inspiration, the object of our adoration, and the model for our emulation,” said CIA President Dr. Tim Ryan in presenting Bocuse, 85, with the award. “Just as musicians around the world from the Beatles to Bruce Springsteen aspired to be like Elvis, legions of young chefs dreamed of being Paul Bocuse.”
Bocuse is considered to be the father of modern French cuisine. He was one of the first to emerge from behind the kitchen door, bringing the face and personality of the chef into the dining room and beyond. His l’Auberge du Pont de Collonges near Lyon, France, has held three stars in Michelin Guide for 47 consecutive years. He is also the creator of the prestigious Bocuse d’Or international culinary competition.
“We feel very modest next to what Mr. Bocuse has done and is still doing,” famed American chef Thomas Keller said at a panel discussion prior to the awards ceremony. “The success of one leads others to aspire to the same success. Paul Bocuse was that person for our generation of chefs.”
Although now retired at the age of 85, Bocuse has high-end restaurants all over the world. He still checks on the kitchen every day at l’Auberge du Pont de Collonges and eats one of the dishes to be served at the eatery that day.
After receiving the Chef of the Century Award, Bocuse came to the CIA’s Hyde Park, N.Y., campus the next day and held a question-and-answer session attended by more than 1,000 students. During the visit, he also recreated the iconic “LYON” photo, with students and faculty spelling out “CIA.” (Photo, right: CIA/Keith Ferris)