The Storied Career of Chef Joel Robuchon & His Michelin Stars

Chef of The Century

Chef Joel Robuchon

Joel Robuchon is pretty much the man all men want to become. He’s a world-renowned chef, a master of his art and the man who was named “Chef of the Century,” back in 1989 even though he hadn’t even grazed the surface of his career at that point – not that we knew that at the time. He’s a man’s man with an eye for aesthetically pleasing food and a palette that can do no wrong. Magic hands and amazing skill aside, he’s back and he’s better than ever; in New York City, that is. The man who once owned one of the most amazing restaurants in NYC L’Atelier – where I was fortunate enough to eat with my husband during a trip many years ago – has been absent since it closed in 2012. Now he’s back.

Get your GPS ready to find 100 East 53rd Street in Manhattan. Taking up two floors in an under-construction condo at this address, the master chef of all chefs is planning on unveiling the next most-difficult-to-get-into restaurant in the city. The ground floor is set to become an upscale French bakery and marketplace with the second floor reserved for his as yet unnamed restaurant. All I know I s that we cannot wait.

With an estimated net worth of $185 million, Chef Joel Robuchon is not messing around when it comes to his skill. He was born on April 7, 1945 in France, the place where food and romance are mostly synonymous. With three siblings, he worked as a cook before he was even old enough to drive as a way of helping his family financially. With an aptitude for amazingness in the kitchen, he quickly decided by the age of 15 it was time for him to take on an apprenticeship at the Relais of Poitiers Hotel. His career actually began making pastries, which is not unlike him at all.

Unsatisfied with being only a pastry chef, the world-renowned chef decided to continue his culinary education in 1966 by joining the Compagnon du Tour de France as an apprentice, which allowed him to travel extensively and learn many different techniques and kitchen secrets. It was, perhaps, the turning point of his very famous career. He was only 28 when he was given the title of head chef at a hotel in Concorde-Lafayette, and less than three years later he was presented with the Meilleur Ouvrier de France award for his craftsmanship.

By the end of the 80s, he was being awarded the best chef in the world, yet he’d not even opened one restaurant at that point. He actually opened Jamin in Paris after that, but then he retired only a few years later after he realized that many of the men with whom he worked in the same industry were dying of the stress. Being the most famous, most talented and most influential chef in the world did not allow Joel Robuchon much time for retirement, and he eventually came back and went on to open many restaurants, of which are some of the most famous in the world.

What is most notable about Chef Robuchon is the fact that he has 25 Michelin stars to date. That is more than any other chef in the entire world. It is not easy to earn even one Michelin star in any restaurant, which is why so few across the world possess them. Chef Robuchon, however, has 25 over the course of his career as a restauranteur. What makes him so successful is that he knows there is no such thing as perfection, and it continuously drives him to do better when he is in the kitchen. So far, he’s been able to do just that time and time again.

Of his many endeavors, it’s his restaurants that earn him the most money. With the exception of his new restaurant in the works in New York City, Chef Robuchon currently owns and operates 22 restaurants across the world. He has L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon locations in Bangkok, Hong Kong (this one comes with 3 Michelin stars), Las Vegas (1 Michelin star), London (2 Michelin stars), Paris (2 Michelin stars), Singapore, Taipei, Tokyo (2 Michelin stars), and Shanghai. He also has a La Table de Joel Robuchon in several cities, the ones in both Paris and Tokyo complete with two Micheline stars. Only 9 of his restaurants do not have Michelin star ratings. The L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Hong Kong, the Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas, the Robuchon au Dome in Macau and Le Chateau de Joel Robuchon all have 3 Michelin stars.

This is some of the most impressive skill the world has ever encountered, and it is clear and very obvious based on the fact that more than half of his restaurants have a Michelin star. It helps that he has 8 cookbooks of his own – I own two of them myself (not that I make anything even a tenth as well as Chef Robuchon) and he’s traveled the world learning how to make food better, more amazing and more artful.

In addition to being named the Chef of the Century, Chef Joel Robuchon has also been awarded a number of other recognitions throughout the course of his career.

  • Best French Restaurant and Best Chef in Las Vegas
  • Laurent Perrier 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Five-Star Award from 2006 through 2011 by Forbes
  • Hot Tables by Conde Nast Traveller
  • And many more

Chef Joel Robuchon does not like to make the same dish at every single restaurant he owns, and he likes to mix things up a bit when he cooks. However, he does have one dish that he makes all the time because it is so famous, so beloved, and it is one dish that people order, want to make at home and love no matter where they go or what they prefer out of a meal – and it’s mashed potatoes. Called the Pommes Puree Recipe, it might be one of his most famous dishes of all time. Just think of it this way; if the best chef in the entire world can make mashed potatoes his most famous signature dish, imagine what he makes everything else he works with taste like.

Photo by Getty Images

Written by Tiffany Raiford

Tiffany Raiford is a lifelong Floridian, wife to my high school sweetheart and mother of four littles (two girls and boy/girl twins...no, they are not identical and yes, I'm sure). My kids love to whine, so I love to wine. My loves include nap time, bed time, date night, travel and evenings and weekends when my husband is home because he handles all diaper changes.