One of the world's best chef's, Benoit Violier, has been found dead at his Swiss home in an apparent suicide, age 44.
The French-Swiss chef ran the Restaurant de l’Hotel de Ville in Crissier, near the city of Lausanne. The restaurant was named the best in the world in December.
Swiss police said in a statement that it appeared that Violier had shot himself and that they had launched an investigation into his death.
“Late in the afternoon, police... went to Crissier where they discovered at his home the body of Mr Benoit Violier," police said.
The statement added that Violier’s family had asked for privacy “to be allowed to mourn in peace”.
The Swiss news website 24 Heures reported that Violier had been due to attend the launch of the new Michelin guide in Paris on Monday.
De l’Hotel de Ville, which boasts three Michelin stars, was crowned the world’s best restaurant by France’s La Liste, which ranks 1,000 top establishments in 48 countries.
The gastronomic guide is the French foreign ministry’s answer to the UK-based World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Celebrating the win, Violier said at the time: “It’s wonderful, it’s exceptional for us. This ranking will only motivate our team more.”
Violier took over the restaurant with his wife Brigitte in 2012, following the retirement of his mentor Philippe Rochat, another towering figure in French cuisine, the Guardian reported. Rochat died after falling ill while cycling in July last year.
Violier was named Chef of the Year in 2013 by the influential Gault & Millau guide, second only to the Michelin guide among gourmets.
Known as a keen hunter, game was a mainstay in Violier’s signature dishes and he was known for using local, seasonal products.
Michelin-starred French chef Pierre Gagnaire was one of many of Violier’s peers who expressed their shock at his death late Sunday. He wrote on Twitter that it was "very sad news about an extremely talented chef".
Fellow star chef Jean Fraiolncois Piege, also of France, tweeted: “An immense chef, an immense sadness, thoughts go out to his family and his team.”
Swiss chef Fredy Girardet, who also received three Michelin stars, told 24 Heures that he was "dumbfounded" by the news.
"He was a brilliant man," he said. "Such talent, and an amazing capacity for work. He was so kind, with so many qualities. He gave the impression of being perfect."
Useful websites and helplines:
- Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
- Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
- Get Connected is a free advice service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- HopeLine runs a confidential advice helpline if you are a young person at risk of suicide or are worried about a young person at risk of suicide. Mon-Fri 10-5pm and 7pm-10pm. Weekends 2pm-5pm on 0800 068 41 41