Friday, June 29, 2007

Paul Bocuse et Moi

 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


Blame It on Paris said...

Wow! What a wonderful story. Carol, you have lived a very rich life! And are keeping it rich. :)

Anonymous said...

ooooooooooooooo!! Can I rub shoulders with you!
What a fantiastsic story. Wonderfully illustrated with your paintings, images and words.
Wow. I keep saying Wow!
I hope he reads this and flys you back over to paint the town red!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful story......

Anonymous said...

Totally facinating~
What an exciting event~
Everything charming!

Ann (MobayDP) said...

Ooooh what fun this was! :)

Anonymous said...

You NEVER quit surprising us. So thats how you ended up doing Chef Jackets and Business cards and ended up in Victoria Magazine.
Love the tidbits you keep putting out here.
Cris in OR

somepinkflowers said...


such a fine one...

i want that story
for my very own...

lucky girl!


Di Overton said...

What a colourful life you have had. Painting chef's jackets and all. I am so pleased my daughter has your autograph. Love these stories.

Anonymous said...

Great photos, Carol! They were such fun. Thoroughly enjoyed that...I remembered reading about your chef portraits past on your blog somewhere before.

eb said...

this is such a cool story - loved it and the chef portraits!

xox - eb.

Anonymous said...

Feeling home sick !!!
I used to drive past his restaurant in Collonges au Mont d'Or every day to go to work.

It was represented at "France Miniature" for many years. But the last time I visited it, it was removed...

Anonymous said...

So cool Carol!! You and your art have mingled among the very best.
I like the part about every one wearing your art as the wrist bands by the end of the party!

Anonymous said...

A wonderful life indeed!

Merisi said...

Wonderful event and reporting.
Nice to see that you do get your rewards for your hard work. Wish you many more of those! P.S.:
Should you ever come to Vienna, I'll have you sign my apron. :-)

Parisbreakfasts said...

OUI! A fun story..
I have been lucky in work,
if not in ----.
At the party, a tall, dark, thin man came over and said he'd like to order a painted jacket..
I asked for his business card.
He said he had none.
He wrote his name in my notebook -
George Duboeuf!

Marie-Noëlle I didn't know you were from Lyon? You must make a mean Pommes Lyonnaise!

Merisi I will happily write my name all over your house.

Merisi said...

I think everyone needs some luck, even the best and the brightes,
and you sure earned yours.
Holly Beaujolais, that story about George Duboeuf confirms my experience, that people who truly earned their good name are among the nicest and most unpretensious human beings (and the best friends, too).
Will have to talk to my landlady re writing on her walls, though. I do have white slipcovers on the sofas, they are great cotton canvas and all mine. *giggle*

Anonymous said...

I am exactly from Villefranche sur Saône (also named: Villefranche en Beaujolais).
My husband is from Lyon.

Ilva said...

I want your autograph TOO! wowowowowow! You are the best Carol!

Anonymous said...

What a terrific story - and your labels are gorgeous! Thanks for sharing it!

Anonymous said...

Oh my Carol! What a Fantastic tale! I love the jackets, and all the labels etc! You look stunningly 'almost French' at the dinner! I don't need to transform you into a 'artistic creation - you already ARE one!!!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful story - and een more wonderful that you shard it with us! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

How absolutely wonderful!!!!!
You always have some wonderful story to tell.


K said...

Truly amazing story, art and life! I love those chef pictures! And the jackets are formidable!

Jann said...

Wow, I am really impressed! Great post!

I need orange said...

What a great set of stories! What fun. Thanks for sharing all this with us!

Anonymous said...

The longer I read your blog the more interesting you become! Thanks so much, Carol, for sharing these great stories and pictures with us!

Anonymous said...

All photos are beautiful.

A Brush with Color said...

Oh, Carol, how could anybody NOT let you ride for free? You charmed them again...too funny.

Zafrin Ali said...

So cool Carol!! You and your art have mingled among the very best.I like the part about every one wearing your art as the wrist bands by the end of the party!Thank,s for nice post.