Food Critic Christian Millau Dies at 88


Confirmed by friends on Monday, renowned French food critic Christian Millau has died at 88 years of age. He passed on Saturday in his home in Paris surrounded by loved ones.

France24 reports on the story, detailing the journalist's life and accomplishments in the culinary world.

Millau is most famous for helping develop the Gault & Millau guide with his colleague and friend Henri Gault in 1969, effectively changing the landscape of French cuisine from then on.

"He revolutionised the world of gastronomy by supporting chefs he discovered like Joel Robuchon and Michel Guerard," said Come de Cherisey, director of the guide as it exists today. "He was also close to Paul Bocuse and helped (officially) launch nouvelle cuisine in 1973."

Millau was one of the key figures in the nouvelle cuisine movement in the late 60's and early 70's, emphasizing lighter and healthier dishes prepared in an appealing manner as opposed to the decadent recipes that made up most of French cuisine at the time. In addition, his advice and support led many chefs to pursue more public personas, spurring on the popularity of the celebrity chef as we know them today.

Millau's guide was known for its sharp, informal style that emphasized and uplifted the unknown of the culinary world, praising new approaches to traditional dishes. Indicative of this was the rating scale used, between one and five toques (traditional chef's hats) and a numerical rating of 1 to 20. While some lucky restaurants were able to obtain the coveted five toques, none ever warranted a perfect 20, as "only God achieved perfection" to Millau.

The Gault & Millau guide is now one of the most popular and influential gastronomy guides in the world, published in 12 different countries. By many, it is considered second only in importance to the Michelin guide, which Millau himself humorously dismissed as a "telephone book".

Share Share