Chef who died in apparent suicide had worried his success would not last

PARIS - Benoit Violier, the chef of the "world's best restaurant" whose apparent suicide has shocked the gastronomic world, worried that his success would not last, reports said Tuesday.

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In his last interview given only four days before he was found dead with his hunting rifle by his side at his home near Lausanne in Switzerland, Violier appeared in good spirits.

But he told the French daily Liberation in an interview published Tuesday that having three Michelin stars and being named as the best in the world in December by the La Liste classification did not matter to him.

"It's all about clients coming back," he said.

"I hope that it lasts. With 54 employees you have only three months grace," he said, referring to the waiting list for a table at his Restaurant de l'Hotel de Ville in the village of Crissier.

"You have always to remain concentrated...

"You know people don't come here for the sea views," Violier joked, referring to his restaurant's less than glamorous setting in a semi-industrial zone near a motorway exit.

He claimed to have never heard of the La Liste, set up by the French department of foreign affairs as a counterweight to the British-based World's 50 Best Restaurants guide, until AFP contacted him to tell him he that was top of their ranking.

"I didn't want to go to the prize-giving ceremony, I had planned to change my identity card that day," he told the daily.

The 44-year-old chef, whose life-long passion for hunting had led him write a 1,000-page encyclopaedia of European game birds, said he was even considering putting his rifle away and taking up photography.

Violier, who had a 12-year-old son, and ran the restaurant with his wife, Brigitte, said he was also toying with idea of teaching cookery.

"The starification of our profession has gone too far. Television has made kids believe that in three months you can be a star. But to be a cook its takes a whole life," he said.



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