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Metro C517-PFC-U C5 1 Series Proofing Cabinet, 3/4 Height, Universal Wire Slides
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New York chefs & Restaurateurs welcome Joel Robuchon

It’s not very often that a chef with a career as extraordinary as Joel Robuchon opens a restaurant in New York. Named “Chef of the Century” by the Gault-Millau guide in 1999 (along with Frédy Girardet and Paul Bocuse), Robuchon is only a few years into his second culinary life, a second act that has him opening restaurants around the world with shocking speed and precision. Although the intention of this article was to “sit in” on a professional dialogue between Mr. Robuchon and some of the finest chefs in New York, all of whom went out of their way to welcome him into their community, let me begin by first introducing the man who is arguably the finest chef ever to open a restaurant in our gleaming, food-renowned city.

The son of a mason, Robuchon was born in 1945 in Poitiers, France. Seemingly predestined to become a priest, he spent three of his teenage years in a local seminary. Young Joel had to leave the seminary at the age of 15 in order to help his family through financial difficulties, and began working at his first restaurant in the Relais of Poitiers Hotel. He remained there for three years before joining the “Compagnon du Tour de France.” While this may sound like a bicycle race, it is actually a traveling apprenticeship, steeped in France’s history and dating back to the Middle Ages. It allows young apprentices to move around the French countryside for three to five years while working for a variety of master chefs. This was arguably one of the most important early experiences in Robuchon’s career, providing him with a vast variety of techniques and experience with regional ingredients all across France.

Over the next ten years, Robuchon worked for a wide range of restaurants throughout France, including Hotel Concorde la Fayette, and Les Celebrites at the Hotel Nikko in Paris. However, none of his experiences during this time period were more important to his development than his relationship with Jean Delaveyne. Delaveyne became well-known not only as Robuchon’s most influential mentor, but also as someone who deserves much credit for developing a creative spin on Escoffier’s ideas that would become known as “Nouvelle Cuisine.” Delaveyne also taught Robuchon that cooking was “more than technique - it was also reflection.”

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