Saturday, January 20, 2018

Paul Bocuse et moi

RIP Paul Bocuse - the most generous, kind and fabulous man I ever met. 
I'm reposting today from June, 2007. Enjoy.
I found an old menu today dated June 29, 1994 from the M.O.F. luncheon Paul Bocuse gave 13 years ago in Lyon. I was a volunteer photographer at The James Beard Foundation for 7 years.
For an exhibit of chef portraits, I painted a chef's jacket to wear to the opening. Bragard, top French chef jacket makers, contacted me. They asked me to paint a 'portrait' jacket for Paul Bocuse to wear to the Chicago Food show. I wrote M. Bocuse requesting reference photos. I received an invitation to his Meilleur Ouvriers De France celebration luncheon in Lyon.
Mon dieu! The M.O.F. is the highest award in France for a craftsman.
No way I could miss this soiree.
 Off I went with Bocuse's painted jacket, a portrait painting portrait, and four jackets to wear at the luncheon. I had nothing sufficiently elegant to wear so I changed my painted chef jackets  4X in the loo instead.
M.Bocuse is a clever man. Every guest got their own M.O.F. 'ribbon' napkin ring. By the end of the luncheon every guest was wearing the MOF on their wrist, singing French songs and waving their arms in the air.

Too funny.
The menu was superb bien sur. No one in the world gives a party the way the French do.

Every French foodie person of note was at this MOF lunch. France's best cheese person, best chocolate maker, best butter maker etc. Siro Maccioni of Le Cirque and I were the only 'American' invitees. Here I'm sitting beside Jacques Maximin former chef of Hotel Negresco

I was shooting for FOOD ARTS Magazine so I took a group shot of all the top chefs.

 Bocuse was instrumental in my new career with Mumm Champagne. He was their USA spokesperson, though he speaks not one word of English. But his charm is contagious.

Mumm asked me to develope a promotional portrait program for them. I painted stacks of Mumm labels they attached to bottles as gift to their restranteurs.
After two days of partying in Lyon, I had to go back to Paris. Bocuse, ever the gracious host, asked his secretary to make me a reservation on the TGV. But I arrived late and jumped on the train sans billet/ticket.
When the conductor came by, I explained I'd been caught in traffic, but Chef Bocuse made the reservation. He paused, thought a moment and then said OK and walked on.
Only in France can you drop the name of a great chef and get a free ride from Lyon-Paris on the TGV!
Bonne 13th Anniversaire of your M.O.F. award,

Paul Bocuse et grand merci!

1995 New Year's card from Paul Bocuse


  1. Such a memorable experience! I had the pleasure of meeting Monsieur Paul on many occasions because of Mumm back then. What an honor.

  2. Carol, thank you for sharing your amazing story.

  3. What a wonderful memory. Thank you for sharing it. Raise a coupe of Mumm to his memory.

  4. I just read both posts..You are so humble! I didn't know you back wonderful..we saw a reportgae on Paul Bocuse..they even showed where he lived generous and nice he was..what a very multi -talented girl you are! And I find you have not changed:) The hair shorter and lighter..and glasses most times..but wow..the face..:) Fab!
    I can imagine it was an honor for both of you..each admiring each others talents.
    Lovely post making us see him in a beautiful manner..

  5. Love all your memorabilia too.So you.

  6. Lovely story. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Anonymous11:14 AM

    Sorry to hear of Monsieur's passing. Very enjoyable post of a walk down memory lane.

    1. With all his Michelin stars, MOF and achievements, Bocuse was a very down-to-earth man.

  8. Paris and the culinary world lost a treasure. ❤️

  9. Wow what a wonderful time to be in Paris!! Such great memories.... there is so much here.... lovely watercolors AND photography.... such an
    exciting time I'm sure!!

    I am so sorry about the passing of your friend.... but what an amazing talent and person....

    I do hope you do a book soon..... and a museum exhibition along with it.... I would LOVE to come!!

    Best wishes Carol and thank you for sharing this!!

  10. Such an excellent posting, Carol!

  11. Wonderful as always. I enjoy your Paris Breakfasts so much.

    And this is a beautiful tribute

    1. I'm so glad I shared this today !!❤️

  12. Love this story of your career. Would like to know more.❤️
    THANKYOU Carol, so much fun!

    1. Many more past stories in the archives.

  13. Memories are the BEST gift a friend can give!
    Thank you for sharing one of your special memories
    with this reader/admirer!

  14. How fantastic Carol!

    We are all in mourning!

    Loved Food Arts Magazine.

  15. You’ve been very modest about your artistic achievements. Thank you for sharing this. Kudos to you!

  16. Gwedolyn11:49 AM

    What a fabulous newsletter Carol. That would have been such an exceptional experience. Your chef's jacket design was sensational. I read the menu. All those magnums !!! I wondered how many guests each new magnum was expected to cater for!

  17. Anonymous11:50 AM

    I love that you had such great champagne adventures and shared the tales. I remember that original post. Very cool. Its always so nice to hear about genuine nice men. And its nice to see what you did on the chef's coats. Very cool indeed. Cheers!(with a glass of Mumm's! Fan from Oregon

  18. Thank you so much, Ms. Carol for sharing with us this fascinating episode in your brilliant life! You're such a true artist! Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

    Requiem for your loyal friend, M. Bocuse. I'm sure he was enchanted by you. As much as we, the readers of your superb blog.

  19. Lynn C1:08 PM

    This had to be one of the most exciting moments in your life. This was wonderful

  20. What a wonderful, special day for you….days like this, makes life worth dealing with all the Blahh in-between!

  21. Sylvia4:30 PM

    What a wonderful experience you had! Thank you for sharing your creative and exciting story!
    And….. Congratulations on being chosen for such a creative honor!
    I think I am running out of exclamation points!!
    I am a true fan of your beautifully executed watercolors and love receiving them in my mailbox. Thank you for brightening my days and keeping my love of Paris and France alive and vibrant!

  22. What a beautiful experience and story.

  23. Terry8:26 PM

    What a loss. But, how fortunate you are o have such amazing (and I'm sure delicious) memories.

  24. Thanks for sharing this wonderful story of a great chef. Lucky you meeting him and going to dinner! Those painted chef's jackets are fabulous though, so I'm not too surprised you got an invite.

  25. Merci Carol pour toute cette beauté et générosité

  26. Wonderful as always. I enjoy your Paris Breakfasts so much.


  27. Thank you for sharing this extraordinary experience. You continue to delight and amaze me.


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