A riveting behind-the-scenes look at the world of three-star French haute cuisine as revealed through the biography of one of France’s most celebrated chefs, The Perfectionist is an unforgettable portrait of Bernard Loiseau, and the sophisticated, unforgiving world of French gastronomy. Loiseau was one of only twenty-five French chefs to hold Europe’s highest culinary...
A riveting behind-the-scenes look at the world of three-star French haute cuisine as revealed through the biography of one of France’s most celebrated chefs, The Perfectionist is an unforgettable portrait of Bernard Loiseau, and the sophisticated, unforgiving world of French gastronomy. Loiseau was one of only twenty-five French chefs to hold Europe’s highest culinary award, three stars in the Michelin Red Guide, and only the second chef to be personally awarded the Legion of Honor by a head of state. Despite such triumphs, he shocked the culinary world by taking his own life in February, 2003. One of the ratings for his restaurant had taken a disappointing drop, and rumors swirled that he was on the verge of losing a Michelin star (a prediction that proved to be inaccurate). Recounting his ascension to wealth and fame, Chelminski unravels the complex character of Loiseau while giving a fascinating, unvarnished glimpse inside an echelon filled with competition, culture wars, and impossibly high standards. BACKCOVER: “Loiseau seems likely to become a mordant icon of the eternal war between critics and cooks…[Chelminski] has a moving story to tell, with universal implications: the downfall of the artist through perfectionism and paranoia.”
—Adam Gopnick, The New Yorker
“The Perfectionist tells, in rich detail, the story of Bernard Loiseau’s rapid rise and desperate efforts to stay on top, but this cautionary tale is also a deeply informed guide to the last half century of French cuisine…”
—William Grimes, The New York Times
“One of the finest and most incisive portraits of a chef ever written—and a sobering account of the real human costs of being the best. A book as strong on "who" cooks as "what" is cooking. Absolutely fascinating."
—Anthony Bourdain, author of the New York Times bestseller Kitchen Confidential
“A revealing look at the rise and fall of French chef Bernard Loiseau…”
“The Perfectionist is a good book: knowledgeable, revealing, and informative. It brings back to life in very believable ways a man who much of the time was, as the cliché goes, larger than life.”
—Johnathan Yardley, The Washington Post
“…rich and finely detailed…if you’re at all curious about what makes our always maddening yet intriguing allies tick, then tuck into The Perfectionist...”
“The Perfectionist examines Loiseau’s suicide in the context of French culinary history, delving deep into the mad passion that seems to drive many master chefs… Mouthwatering descriptions abound…the behind-the-scenes look at the kitchens of some of France’s finest restaurants is fascinating…”
—The Boston Globe
“…The Perfectionist effectively reveals the pressure-cooker atmosphere among a culinary elite dominated by intense rivalries, fickle reviewers, and hypercritical chefs for whom there is no such thing as second best.”
“Rudolph Chelminski is an excellent and absorbing writer who obviously understands the inner workings of the culinary world, as well as how chefs think. His empathy for the industry as a whole - and for Bernard Loiseau in particular - makes The Perfectionist a fascinating read.”
—Daniel Boulud, Chef/Owner DANIEL, author of Letters to a Young Chef and Daniel Boulud’s Café Boulud Cookbook