Death of a Modern Hero
A Time to Reflect on the "System"
By André Gayot
Bocuse along with other great chefs are indignant about
the death of Bernard Loiseau. We share their emotion, and
we participate in the sorrow. While their message is clear,
isn't now is a time to reflect more than to chastise?
the end of Bernard, who rose all by himself from poverty
to celebrity, is shocking, it is a sad opportunity to take
the time to reevaluate the roles we accept to play in the
order of our current society. If we abide by its rules and
aim to accomplish ourselves, what else can we do than fight
our way through, struggle with competition, race for fame,
and attempt to gain glory and perhaps money? This is "the
system." The system breeds winners, as well as losers.
One can win and lose. Loiseau benefited from the system,
and, in the end, he was also a victim of it, as are so many
others who will remain anonymous forever.
path to the top of any profession is narrow, but treading
forever the summits is an impossible challenge. Bernard
was one of the few who rose from modest apprenticeship to
world fame and never stopped to undertake adding business
responsibilities to his ingenuity. His work, as the work
of all restaurateurs, is among the toughest and most demanding
ones we know of. We would be blind not to see the incredible
energy that needs to be deployed in the kitchens. It never
ends and the call is for more effort everyday. How long
can a man or a woman sustain the permanent pressure resulting
from the very nature of his or her success? It could have
been too much for Bernard. He is not the only one.
the collapse of the black "gazelle" Marie-José
Perec, the world champion of the 400-meter race. Under the
pressure (from the public, the media, the team) she fled
from the stadium in Sydney while the world was expecting
to see her repeating her victory on the Australian track.
never gives a break to those who want to perform at the
top whether it's tennis, music, theater, literature, art
or any human activity including cuisine. Through the media,
the public is watching the modern heroes prompt to notice
their shortcomings more than their triumphs, the latter
being expected — n'est-ce
pas? — to
is legitimate to ask questions about the way the media does
its job when it deals with the complexity of this arduous
profession. Judging always poses a grave moral problem.
Many factors enter into the equation of a final verdict
and it takes quite some knowledge and experience to pretend
to resolve it satisfactorily. Is this wisdom and reflection
always present in the opinions about the restaurants delivered
to the public? Was it the case in this particular instance?
For obvious reasons, it is not for us to decide. It is up
to the French public to provide the answer.
for us, the moral line has not changed: The media plays
its role when it assesses with honesty and competence the
merits of an establishment and the media cannot ignore that
these merits may vary in time. For as Beaumarchais wrote:
"without the liberty to criticize there is no merit
in praise." It turned out to be the basic foundation
of the modern press and by extension of our democracy.
*Read more about Bernard Loiseau
Gault Millau Controversy
All the Rage About Loiseau