A three star chef whose restaurant was rated as the world’s best was found dead at his home on Sunday. Benoit Violier, 44, along with his wife, Brigitte, owned the famed Restaurant de l’Hotel de Ville in Crissier, Switzerland. Police reported Violier died of apparently self-inflicted shotgun wounds. An investigation is under way to determine more details. The death of the top French chef has shocked the world of Haute Cuisine, with many contemporaries expressing dismay and grief.
Fredy Girardet, fellow three-starred chef and friend of Violier and his wife, told Swiss newspaper Tribune de Genève he was “completely stunned” at the loss. “I can see no motive for such an act. He was a brilliant young man, with enormous talent and an impressive work potential. He gave the impression of being perfect. This news is so sad.”
Jean Francois Piege, another star French chef, wrote on Twitter: “An immense chef, an immense sadness, thoughts go out to his family and his team.”
Violier, born in La Rochelle, France, had been at the Crissier restaurant since 1996. His long tutelage took place under his mentor, “second father ” and towering giant of Haute Cuisine, Philippe Rochat, who died suddenly in the summer of 2015. Violier’s restaurant had been awarded a prestigious three star rating and come top in a French guide to the world’s top dining establishments.
Having also lost his real father recently, reports suggest Violier may have been suffering from both grief and the attendant pressure of running one of the world’s best eateries. Michelin – who operate the most widely recognised restaurant and hotel guide – were due to publish their 2016 edition this very week. For the very top restaurants the awarding – or taking away – of a Michelin star can make or break a restaurant and business.
A hugely driven and successful chef, Violier had previously spoken about the levels of stress involved for a man in his position: “It’s my life. I go to sleep with cooking, I wake up to cooking.” He described the pressure of running the restaurant as “necessary” to maintain standards.