Tributes paid to Michel Bourdin, former maître chef de cuisine of London's Connaught hotel
Michel Bourdin, maître chef de cuisine of London's Connaught hotel for more than 25 years and a founder of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts, has died at the age of 80.
The Royal Academy said: "It is with great sadness that we heard that the great Michel Bourdin sadly passed away. Michel was a founder of the Academy of Culinary Arts and instrumental in pursuing our royal title of which we are so proud. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family."
Bourdin was born in June 1942 and inherited his love of food from his grandmother, who ran a restaurant, Brasserie Bourdin, in the Rue de Temple, Paris.
He began cooking professionally at the age of 16, spending the early part of his career at the two-Michelin-starred Restaurant Ledoyen on the Champs Elysées, Paris; the Grand hotel in Dinard, Brittany; and Apotel Etoile, Paris.
He won the first Michelin star for the Connaught in 1975, followed by a second star three years later. In 1980 he established the UK branch of the Academy of Culinary Arts.
Four years later he became the first recipient of the Chef Award Catey. During his career he received a number of other honours including the Chevalier du Merite Agricole and Officier dans l'Ordre National du Merite by the French government and has an honorary doctorate from Johnson and Wells University in the US.
He retired from the Connaught in 2001, having spent 26 years at the hotel. He later took on a voluntary advisory role at the Ritz London.
On his 25th anniversary with the Connaught Bourdin had said the one achievement that gave him particular satisfaction was the rigorous training he has implemented at the hotel.
"Training for the future is vital, and every year I take on four apprentices – three chefs and one pâtissier – who stay with me for four or five years," he said. "It is wonderful for me to look around the country and see so many chefs doing well who began their careers with me."
Many chefs have been paying tribute to Bourdin since his death was announced on Friday [3 February].
Chef and restaurateur Paul Heathcote said: "RIP Michel Bourdin you changed a whole generation of chefs careers, keeping true to a century of skills and techniques, never allowing them to fade, but then raising the level of your craft, so many will be grateful for being part of your kitchen brigade, including myself."
Simon Hulstone, chef-owner at the Michelin-starred Elephant restaurant in Torquay, Devon, said: "Sad to hear of chef Michel Bourdin's passing. He was someone as a young chef I greatly admired and when training for a major competition he welcomed me into his kitchens to teach me a few classic dishes. A real gentleman."
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