In the culinary world, becoming one of the Michelin star chefs is one of the highest achievements one can make. Chefs from all over the world strive for years to earn just one Michelin star. A select few chefs will be fortunate enough to earn multiple Michelin stars over the course of their careers. But which chef has the most Michelin Stars? Read on to learn more about Joël Robuchon, the chef of the century who amassed a whopping 32 Michelin stars over his career.
Joël Robuchon was born in 1945 în Poitiers, France. At age twelve, he entered the junior seminary in Mauléon-sur-Sèvre with the intention of becoming a priest. However, while helping the nuns prepare meals, he found a new calling. At the age of 15, he began an apprenticeship at the Relais of Poitiers hotel as a pastry chef. At 21, he joined the apprenticeship Compagnon du Tour de France. This program allowed him to travel throughout France to learn a variety of regional culinary techniques. By 29, he was the head chef at Hôtel Concorde La Fayette, overseeing a whopping ninety chefs and serving up over 3000 meals per sitting. One has to wonder if he knew then that he would be one of the most famous Michelin star chefs.
In 1976, Robuchon also won the Meilleur Ouvrier de France. He earned his first two Michelin stars while working at the Hôtel Nikko in Paris. In 1981, he opened his first restaurant, Jamin, in Paris. The restaurant earned three Michelin stars in its first three years, a record-breaking achievement. This was also followed by a steady stream of awards and recognition for his impeccable French cuisine. In 1989, prestigious restaurant guide Gault Millau named Robuchon the ”Chef of the Century.” These early stars led to Robuchon being the subject of our article on which chef has the most Michelin Stars.
At the age of 50, Robuchon abruptly announced his retirement, startling many in the culinary world. He made his decision after seeing many fellow Michelin star chefs die in their 50s as the result of stress. Instead, Robuchon turned to broadcast. He appeared on “Cook Like a Great Chef” and the hugely popular “Bon Appétit, You Bet!,” which ran for nine years.
The older I get, the more I realize the truth is: the simpler the food, the more exceptional it can be, I never try to marry more than three flavors in one dish. I like walking into a kitchen and knowing that the dishes are identifiable and the ingredients within them easy to detect.
Chef Robuchon also traveled extensively and did consulting work after his retirement. It was during his travels that he sprouted the idea that would springboard him back into the restaurant business. Inspired by the tapas bars of Spain and the sushi counters of Japan, Robuchon created the concept of The Atelier. In his 2006 cookbook “L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon,” he described it as “a little place, with 15 or 20 seats, one or two people at the stoves, with a spontaneous, healthy cuisine based on what the chef finds at the market every day.” Robuchon opened his namesake Ateliers in multiple locations across the globe. Many earned three Michelin stars, the highest honor possible. This vaulted Robuchon to lead the race in which chef has the most Michelin stars.
The culinary world was saddened in August of 2018 to learn of Joël Robuchon’s death from pancreatic cancer at the age of 73. At the time of his death, he had a total of 24 Michelin stars at 13 restaurants in nine different cities. Michelin released a statement mourning their most starred chef.
Joël Robuchon was a unique man, an extraordinary chef who revolutionized French cuisine, and trained and inspired a whole generation of chefs. Through his talent and creativity, he has contributed to the highest degree to restore gastronomy to its nobility and elevate it to the status of a recognized art. From his restaurant Jamin, famous around the world, and through his Ateliers de Joël Robuchon, he became a true entrepreneur at the head of a gastronomic group which he has spread worldwide.
Chef Robuchon changed the world of French cuisine in a way that will certainly leave a legacy for generations to come. When looking for which chef has the most Michelin stars, look no further than the legacy of Robuchon. For more from the world’s best Michelin star chefs, explore 6 Must-Read Chef’s Memoirs to Inspire.