The Paul Bocuse philosophy: simple, sophisticated, subtle, adventurous
The Gourmet Restaurant & L'Abbaye
Paul Bocuse passed away in January 2018, but his name will continue to live on around the world. This hero of French gourmet cuisine dedicated himself to the culinary arts for almost 50 years, building an empire inspired by simple, generous and local cuisine.
Paul Bocuse was born on 11 February 1926 in Collonges-au-Mont-d'Or, just a few miles down the road from Lyon. The only son of Georges and Irma Bocuse, Paul Bocuse perpetuated the family's long line of chefs stretching all the way back to 1765, with stories of a certain Michel Bocuse and his wife delighting the local inhabitants' taste buds with small fry, pork products and local cheeses.
He began learning his craft under Eugénie Brazier, known as "Mother Brazier", before continuing his apprenticeship with Fernand Point, Head Chef at La Pyramide in Vienne, where he learnt what would later become his two guiding values: simplicity and expertise in cooking methods.
A stint working at the Lucas Carton restaurant in Paris under Chef Gaston Richard gave him an insight into the formal rules and conventions that defined the capital's haute cuisine style. After returning to Fernand Point in 1956 as a pantry chef, Paul Bocuse entered the family-run business at L’Hôtel du Pont de Collonges.
In 1958, his career hit the fast lane. L’Abbaye de Collonges was built just a few hundred metres away from L’Auberge as a prestigious events venue. In 1961, Paul Bocuse was honoured with the coveted France's Best Craftsman award ("Meilleur Ouvrier de France").
One evening, Henri Gault and Christian Millau (founders of the famous Gault Millau guide) were left spellbound after sampling a salad of al dente green beans, followed by scarcely cooked fillets of small striped red mullets. They believed that the cuisine at L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges was light years away from what they were used to eating at other restaurants.
Paul Bocuse advised them to pay a visit to his friends in Roanne, the Troisgros brothers, where they discovered the same philosophy of producing simple, yet refined, light and daring dishes. A new approach to cuisine was clearly emerging, representing the ideal opportunity to form a society of chefs from the great French cuisine tradition to spearhead and defend this trend that was soon to be called "Nouvelle Cuisine", which already featured a dozen chefs.
In the early 1980s, Paul Bocuse teamed up with friends Roger Vergé and Gaston Lenôtre to open "Les Chefs de France" in the French Pavilion at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. This venture marked his first steps on the international stage, and his name would soon become a fixture in other countries such as Japan, where he still enjoys living god status.
In 1987, Paul Bocuse created the Bocuse d'Or in Lyon, clearly one of the most prestigious cooking contests in the world, and was named President of the Meilleur Ouvrier de France competition (in the cooking and restaurant management category) in 1989. He was also named Chef of the Century and the Pope of Gastronomy.
Finally, he opened the Institut Paul Bocuse in 1990, which is attended by students from 37 different countries, followed by the Paul Bocuse Foundation in 2004 to build on his passion of passing on his knowledge and expertise to the widest possible audience.
In 2018, Paul Bocuse passed away, leaving his philosophy as a lasting legacy. Today, the entire team works with the sole aim of immortalising the philosophy and values of the man who created the matrix for Nouvelle Cuisine.
What drives them? Creating, innovating, breaking the rules to make their own, being free and unique and producing perfection.
"Work as though you'll live to be 100 and live as though tomorrow will be your last”
Passion is clearly the driving force behind Paul Bocuse's success. Everyone working at L’Auberge and L’Abbaye de Collonges is consistently focused on promoting the highest quality standards at all times, whether choosing products, adopting the right behaviour in the dining room or interacting in a befitting manner with customers and colleagues alike. This is the hallmark of excellence that has shaped and defined the venue's history and which should last for many years to come.
"Entertaining guests means ensuring their happiness”.
Paul Bocuse's history is literally punctuated with anecdotes that convey the deep sense of friendship that he has forged with both customers and those around him.
The delight in eliciting pleasure and serving in the noblest sense of the word, i.e. being useful to others, is a continual motivation guaranteeing that each customer experiences rare sensations, sincere emotions and unforgettable moments.
"We work with our hands. The skills of our craft are taught. Students learning our profession require mentoring, and it is our duty to pass on our knowledge.”
Imparting knowledge is a distinguishing feature of Paul Bocuse's work ethic. The Chef has always been an advocate of simplified communication as a vehicle for sharing the experiences and skills that have allowed the business to grow and develop.
Today, every member of the team is an ambassador of this disruptive, innovative, remarkable and unique philosophy.
One cannot become the Pope of Gastronomy and an ambassador of what is known as “Nouvelle Cuisine” without enjoying a certain amount of freedom, without daring to create and to innovate with a single constraint: perfection. Perfect cooking, perfect products, created with the right mindset and the right intentions. Today, it is this creative, daring, meticulous, precise and unique approach which the team works to immortalise. As you enter Restaurant Paul Bocuse, you enter a temple of freedom, creativity and authenticity with all its remarkable avant-gardism.
A local region and its people,
the search for the perfect product and the right season
Paul Bocuse’s team boasts the ultimate knowledge and expertise when it comes to excellent food.
Restaurant Paul Bocuse’s suppliers have remained unchanged for many years. The responsibility for choosing vegetables lies with a trusted market gardener, La Maison Fressenon, which has been in business for 3 generations and buys from selected producers across France. When not bought directly at auction in Brittany, fish are supplied by Les Homards Acadiens.
La Tresse du Boucher supplies meat including meat from Pauillac, free-raised veal and Salers beef.
Blue-legged Bresse poultry is supplied by Bastin and Mieral, saucissons and cervelas are provided by the family-run Charcuterie Sibilia, Saint Marcellin cheese is supplied by La Mère Richard, as does La Maison Chevenay. Philippe Marc Jocteur, a baker on the Île Barbe, has long supplied the restaurant with his sourdough bread.