The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Death by Criticism

Posted on | January 24, 2013 | 9 Comments

Bernard Loiseau was one of the world’s most famous French chefs:

Ten years ago, Loiseau was France’s most feted chef. The charismatic cook’s beaming face smiled from billboards, TV shows and recipe books. His restaurant, Le Relais Bernard Loiseau in Saulieu, Burgundy was a favourite with the late president François Mitterrand.
Robert de Niro would drop in by helicopter for his signature dish of frog’s legs with garlic purée and parsley sauce.
But on February 24, 2003, the chef finished his lunchtime service, rolled up his apron and drove home. Telling his ten-year old son — one of three children — to go and play outside, he went upstairs, locked the bedroom door and shot himself in the head with a hunting rifle, a present from his wife.

What happened? Loiseau had been privately warned by the editor of the Michelin travel guides that his restaurant was in danger of being demoted from the coveted three-star ranking. Michelin denied it at the time of Loiseau’s suicide, and tried to fix the blame on other critics, but a just-discovered note confirmed the truth.

The night manager at Waffle House doesn’t have any self-esteem issues, but the great French chef couldn’t stand to be a mere two-star chef.

(Hat tip: T.R. Sterling.)


9 Responses to “Death by Criticism”

  1. Paul Zummo
    January 24th, 2013 @ 3:48 pm

    So one of the plot points of Ratatouille is actually based in fact?

  2. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    January 24th, 2013 @ 4:09 pm

    Pixar foretold it all…

  3. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    January 24th, 2013 @ 4:09 pm

    You beat me to it Paul!

  4. gvanderleun
    January 24th, 2013 @ 4:28 pm

    “Robert de Niro would drop in by helicopter for his signature dish of frog’s legs with garlic purée and parsley sauce.” oooh, where is a Stinger grøund to air missile when you really, REALLY, need one?

  5. rosalie
    January 24th, 2013 @ 5:04 pm

    I know that the French take their food very seriously, but I have to believe that this chef had other problems that led to his suicide.

  6. Christy Waters
    January 24th, 2013 @ 5:36 pm

    Never let the opinion of anyone have power over you.

    Mmmmm… I love Waffle House.

  7. rmnixondeceased
    January 24th, 2013 @ 7:23 pm

    One less snotty frog for you to deal with, one more for me to have to ignore the endless whining of …

  8. ThomasD
    January 24th, 2013 @ 9:45 pm

    Losing a star is like getting sent back down to the minor league. It also doesn’t happen overnight. He was either over rated or had been under performing and, either way, knew it.

  9. TR
    January 24th, 2013 @ 10:15 pm

    The mortality for untreated manic-depression is 25%. That is death by other than natural causes, basically: alcoholism, drugs and suicide. The best cuisine, and vintages and sometimes even the best medical treatment, don’t alter that sad statistic.