The cookbook in the photo, Mes Recettes de Terroir, is how I came to know Bernard Loiseau. As I read and cooked my way through this book, I came to love the spirit of this man, who states in his introduction that the greatest compliment he received as a chef was when a client told him, “Monsieur, your cooking reminds me of my mother’s.” The suicide of this renowned and beloved chef sent shock waves and terrible sadness through the gastronomic world, myself included. I find the suicide of a great chef almost impossible to contemplate, as the métier of cooking fantastically for others is a vocation that is so full of life, love, generosity, and creativity that it seems indomitable and inextinguishable.
Loiseau was someone who could wax euphoric for an hour over the taste of a tomato or the texture of a sauce, his friends commented. And his wife was quoted in Figaro as saying, “Les êtres exceptionnels sont fragiles; de véritables funambules qui peuvent descendre parfois très bas.” (Exceptional beings are fragile, veritable tightrope walkers who can sometimes sink very low.) And of course, she is right. An artist such as her late husband, who was extremely sensitive to all that is wonderful, was just as susceptible to the less-than-perfect. Add to this the fact that Bernard Loiseau was someone who gave indefatigably to everyone around him–family, friends, employees, clients, and the larger public–and you have someone likely to be even more fragile when life is less than perfect.