French cooking guru Bocuse is 'chef of century'
Frenchman Paul Bocuse, credited as the father of "nouvelle cuisine" and the first of the celebrity chefs, was named Wednesday "chef of the century" by the leading US cooking school.
The Culinary Institute of America named Bocuse the top chef of the 20th century, citing the 85-year-old's legendary career in which he transformed both food on plates and the lives of the people who cooked.
"He is one of the greatest, most significant chefs of all time," Tim Ryan, president of the institute, which is known as the CIA, said at an event with Bocuse in New York prior to the awards ceremony.
Ryan said Bocuse led the movement in the 1960s and '70s in France that became known as "nouvelle cuisine" and was typified by experimentation, new care over presentation and attention to ingredients.
Bocuse also brought cooks out of the anonymity of the kitchen and into the media, becoming "the first celebrity chef of the modern era," Ryan said.
Bocuse, whose Lyon restaurant L'Auberge is one of the few to be awarded three Michelin stars, said that the secret of success in the kitchen was simple.
"You cannot forget the good ingredients. If there are not good ingredients, there is no good cooking," he said, adding: "There is no great or small cooking -- there is only good."
As for his role in inventing "nouvelle cuisine," he is less than eager to accept the honor, saying the name was a media invention and the cooking was not "some incredible revolution."
Known for his humorous attitude to the hard work of being a globe-trotting chef, Bocuse joked: "Nouvelle cuisine was nothing on the plate, but everything on the bill."
© 2011 AFP