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 to M. Bocuse requesting reference photos. And 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 4 painted jackets to wear at the luncheon. I had nothing elegant to wear so I changed my painted chef jackets 4 times 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  I took group shots 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 to 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. Wow! What a wonderful story. Carol, you have lived a very rich life! And are keeping it rich. :)

  2. Anonymous8:52 AM

    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!

  3. Anonymous9:42 AM

    What a wonderful story......

  4. Anonymous9:51 AM

    Totally facinating~
    What an exciting event~
    Everything charming!

  5. Ooooh what fun this was! :)

  6. Anonymous10:44 AM

    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

  7. oh!

    such a fine one...

    i want that story
    for my very own...

    lucky girl!


  8. 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.

  9. Anonymous4:14 PM

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

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

    xox - eb.

  11. Anonymous10:36 AM

    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...

  12. Anonymous12:35 PM

    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!

  13. Anonymous1:41 PM

    A wonderful life indeed!

  14. 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. :-)

  15. 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.

  16. Carol,
    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*

  17. Anonymous4:59 AM

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

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

  19. Anonymous8:24 AM

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

  20. Anonymous3:48 PM

    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!!!

  21. Anonymous5:27 PM

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

  22. Anonymous10:03 PM

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


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

  24. Wow, I am really impressed! Great post!

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

  26. Anonymous12:59 PM

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

  27. Anonymous8:26 AM

    All photos are beautiful.

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

  29. Zafrin Ali7:01 AM

    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.


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