The Chef Whose Quest for the Ultimate Vinegar Drove Him to Death
What makes a great chef kill himself? A kitchen can induce a grand obsession from which there is no escape. Take the sad case of Franco Colombani.
Producing great cooking can be like a permanent pursuit of the unattainable. It’s an art that is perishable and depends on performances repeated daily that require instant acclaim from those who consume it. The slightest hint of imperfection can turn a chef’s mind and, in a state of aggravated obsession, he can kill himself.
That’s apparently what just happened to Benoit Violier, proclaimed the best cook in the world by the French, his Swiss restaurant voted first of 1,000 restaurants in 48 countries. A rumor that a French food guide, Gault Millau, had lowered his ranking by a small notch and that he might lose a Michelin star had, according to French newspapers, pushed Violier over the edge.
There are several sad elements to this story, apart from the death of somebody who was without doubt at the top of his craft.