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One Of The World's Greatest Chefs Is Found Dead In His Swiss Home

Chef Benoit Violier, whose Restaurant Hotel de Ville in Crissier, Switzerland, was named the No. 1 restaurant in the world, was found dead in what police say has the appearance of a suicide.
Michel Euler

Benoit Violier, the renowned 44-year-old chef of Restaurant de l'Hôtel de Ville in Crissier, Switzerland, has died in what police say has the look of a suicide. The authorities say they found Violier's body next to a gun in his home.

For years now, the Restaurant de l'Hôtel de Ville has won the coveted three stars in the annual Michelin restaurant guide. In December, it was named No. 1 on La Liste, a French survey of the best restaurants worldwide.

Violier, who had a wife and son, was found dead on Sunday, the eve of the Michelin Guide's unveiling of its famous (and, to many chefs, all-important) rankings. Violier ran his restaurant along with his wife, Brigitte; he had been slated to attend the Michelin announcement ceremony in Paris today.

For many, the timing has set off memories of Bernard Loiseau, the legendary French chef who committed suicide in 2003 and who was known as a perfectionist who fretted over his restaurant's ratings. In the year that Louiseau died, his restaurant did not lose its star, although news articles had speculated that it might.

Violier's restaurant retains its three stars in the 2016 Michelin Guide, which calls it "a true temple of gastronomy!"

Born in France, Violier obtained Swiss citizenship after taking over the famed Restaurant de l'Hôtel de Ville, where he was mentored by Philippe Rochat — another great chef, who died last summer.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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