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Paul Bocuse Named “Chef of the Century” by the CIA

29 April 2011

food3_may11Culinary Legend Honored at 2011 Augie™ Awards

Paul Bocuse was honored as the Chef of the Century at The Culinary Institute of America's (CIA) fifth-annual Augie™ Awards at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square in New York City on March 30. In addition to Bocuse, four other foodservice and hospitality greats were honored at the event, which raised about $500,000 for scholarships to support the education of future culinary leaders.

"Paul Bocuse was the culinary equivalent of Elvis Presley—a source of great inspiration, the object of our adoration, and the model for our emulation," said CIA President Dr. Tim Ryan, CMC, in presenting Bocuse, 85, with the award. "Just as musicians around the world from the Beatles to Bruce Springsteen aspired to be like Elvis, legions of young chefs dreamed of being Paul Bocuse."

Bocuse is the father of modern French cuisine. He was one of the first to emerge from behind the kitchen door, bringing the face and personality of the chef into the dining room and beyond. His l'Auberge du Pont de Collonges near Lyon, France, has held three stars in Michelin Guide for 47 consecutive years. He is also the creator of the prestigious Bocuse d'Or international culinary competition.

"We feel very modest next to what Mr. Bocuse has done and is still doing," famed American chef Thomas Keller said at a panel discussion prior to the awards ceremony. "The success of one leads others to aspire to the same success. Paul Bocuse was that person for our generation of chefs."

Bocuse said receiving the Chef of the Century Award from the CIA is one of his proudest career achievements, along with the 1961 Meilleur Ouvrier de France honor as the best craftsman in his native country. "I want to thank The Culinary Institute of America for this honor," Bocuse said through a translator. "This is where my son learned the foundation of cooking. The Institute opened his culinary horizons."

He recalled his first visit to the CIA's Hyde Park, N.Y., campus, in 1989. "I had seen many culinary schools in the United States. I knew right away this was in a whole different league. I stayed for two days." The next year, Bocuse sent his son to study at the CIA, rather than any other culinary school in the world or to apprentice at the foot of a European master chef.

Other honorees who received Augie Awards from the CIA:

  • Chef of the Year: Daniel Boulud. The native of Chef Bocuse's hometown of Lyon has come to dominate the restaurant scene in New York City. He considers Bocuse a mentor.
  • Alumni of the Year: Jerome Bocuse '92 and Michael Chiarello '82. Bocuse is the son of the Chef of the Century honoree and a worthy recipient in his own right. He is vice president of Les Chefs de France restaurant at EPCOT® in Orlando, Fla., and vice president of the board of directors of the Bocuse d'Or USA Foundation. Chiarello once served as stagiere under Paul Bocuse at Chefs de France. The chef and owner of Bottega Napa Valley won three daytime Emmy Awards for his television programs.
  • Frances L. Roth Award: Richard Marriott. The chairman of the board of Host Hotels & Resorts was honored for his vision, creativity and entrepreneurship that meet the highest standards of excellence and leadership.

The day after receiving the Chef of the Century Award, Bocuse visited the CIA's Hyde Park campus and held a question-and-answer session attended by more than 1,000 students.


Photo: Augie Award honorees (l. to r.) Jerome Bocuse, Paul Bocuse and Daniel Boulud with CIA President Dr. Tim Ryan.