Jonathan Cartu Stated: The Culinary World Responds To News Of The Death Of Chef Pi... - Jonathan Cartu Restaurant, Baking & Catering Services
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Jonathan Cartu Stated: The Culinary World Responds To News Of The Death Of Chef Pi…

The Culinary World Responds To News Of The Death Of Chef Pi...

Jonathan Cartu Stated: The Culinary World Responds To News Of The Death Of Chef Pi…

Pierre Troisgros, one of the significant voices in the development of modern French cuisine today, has died at the age of 92. 

“He was in his kitchen at Le Coteau waiting for his friends, to play cards,” grandson Thomas Troisgros told The New York Times in an email, citing a heart attack as the cause of death.

“An emblematic figure of the great French cuisine, Pierre Troigros was one of those chefs whose name has become an international reference in gastronomy,” wrote Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the Michelin Guides. 

Pierre, along with his brother Jean, ran the Troisgros family restaurant called Hôtel Moderne in Roanne, France, inherited from parents Jean-Baptiste and Marie. “Within this house, Pierre embodied the transmission and innovation that has always permeated the kitchens of the establishment,” wrote Poullennec.

The restaurant was awarded one star in 1956, followed by a second in 1965 and a third in 1968 from Michelin and has been a longstanding destination for epicureans (the restaurant is run today by Pierre’s son Michel and daughter-in-law Marie-Pierre, and their sons César and Leo).

 “Brother Pierre in his tall white toque sat playing gin rummy in the middle of the dining room, where the awed pilgrims left over from lunch still nibbled petit fours as we checked in,” wrote Gael Greene about her visit in the 1970s to Les Frères Troisgros in her notorious tell-all book, Insatiable. “As this was a town where manufacturing shoes was the hot ticket, visitors with time to linger might find themselves shooting baskets with the sociable Troisgros brothers or tagging along on food foraging expeditions between lunch and dinner.” (The tasting menu at the time was a mere $13.50 USD, reported Greene, although today’s menu is priced at 500 euros or about $580 USD)

Scions who populated upscale restaurants from the 1960s through 80s will be familiar with the impact of Troisgros’s contributions to the rise of nouvelle cuisine. A shift from the heavy cream and butter preparations of classic French technique, nouvelle cuisine inspired a more streamlined and lighter approach to cooking.

“That style was influenced by the austere finesse of Japanese cooking and known, at its extreme, for tiny portions on huge white plates, a caricature in which the Troisgros brothers never indulged” writes esteemed food writer Florence Fabricant in The New York Times‘ obituary for Pierre Troisgros (Jean died suddenly of a heart attack in 1983). “Their contribution was to showcase the innate flavors of seasonal ingredients, and to pare down some of the overblown creations buried in thick sauces that had come to represent French haute-cuisine.”

In 1973, Gault&Millau’s “10 commandments of nouvelle cuisine” spelled out the reviewer’s definitive take on this style of cooking (Henri Gault is said to have coined the phrase). The list included edicts to not overcook food, use fresh quality ingredients, eliminate rich sauces and not doctor presentations.

One can see similarities in the farm to table ethos of today’s cooking in North America (although the concept was hardly new to French cooks), although the eschewing of “systematic modernist” cuisine and fermenting/charcuterie is a stark contrast. Nevertheless, the influence of what the Troisgros began a half century ago will continue into future generations.

Ofer Eitan

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