Library Notes: Remembering Chef Paul Bocuse

Written by Sara Quiroz
ICC Librarian

On January 20th the culinary world lost a visionary chef. Chef Paul Bocuse passed away in the same room where he was born 91 years ago above his main restaurant. The king of nouvelle cuisine, Chef Bocuse received many accolades and opened many restaurants throughout the years. Yet even with all the success he remained humble. Our own Chef Alain Sailhac, Dean Emeritus, recalled when Chef Bocuse stopped by the kitchen at Le Cirque to congratulate him. The two forged a friendship that would last years with Chef Alain stopping to visit whenever he was in Lyon. Chef Paul Bocuse was not only a brilliant chef but a prolific writer, so this month in the library we are highlighting his cookbooks to honor his memory.

Paul Bocuse’s French Cooking is his first book and an absolute classic. This beautiful volume was published in 1977 and includes over 1,000 recipes including 41 omelets! Very classic recipes, methods and preparation include everything from Truffle Soup Elysee to Cassoulet Languedoc Style to French Christmas Pudding. I may have to try my hand at the Poached Pears in Beaujolais. The book even includes the exact menu for the famous luncheon Chef Bocuse prepared for President Valery Giscard d’Estaing at the Elysee Palace – including the wine list. Perfect if you want to throw an unforgettable party.

If you are looking for something more specialized (and lighter to carry home!) we have Bocuse’s Regional French Cooking. When instructor Chef Jose Menendez spotted it in the display, it brought back memories. “This is just classic! Look at these recipes, essential,” he said, leafing through the terrines, gratins and roasts. This light paperback includes more color photos than the previous guide, and rather than dividing by course, it is split up by the regions of France. From the simple seafood of Provence to the Germanic influenced dishes of Alsace, Bocuse offers his take on the traditional foods and preparations of each region.  Of course there is the most from his home of Lyon, but he includes a little something for everyone – appetizer to dessert. Try your hand at the Savory Bacon and Onion Tart or the Provencal Fish Stew – classic Bouillabaisse.

The encyclopedic Complete Bocuse covers everything you need to know from his repertoire. With a beautiful layout and design and easy to follow recipes this 2010 compendium has a wide variety of recipes both savory and sweet. Try his classic Ratatouille, Quiche Lorraine or Coq au Vin and finish everything off with an Iced Cherry Souffle.

The beautiful Alain Ducasse series, My Best includes the top ten favorite recipes of all of his famous culinary friends. Each recipe is beautifully laid out with photo illustrations for each step of the recipe. This may sound like a beginner cookbook, but these are complex recipes from the master chefs of the world.  Paul Bocuse is included with My Best: Paul Bocuse. The book opens with a lovely interview giving some insight to the chef. Did you know Paul Bocuse collected mechanical organs? Next are the 10 recipes selected by Paul Bocuse with photo layouts of both the ingredients and each step of the process. Recipes include Macaroni and Cheese, Bresse Chicken Fricassee and Apple Tart.

So stop by the library to pick up a book so you can commemorate the life of this master by recreating one of his recipes.