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Nouvelle Cuisine Pioneer Alain Senderens Dies at 77

The esteemed French chef, who retired in 2014, passed away at home on June 25

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The leading chef  was considered a master of French cuisine. 

Alain Senderens, one of the pioneers — along with such luminaries as Michel Guérard, Jean and Pierre Troisgros, and Paul Bocuse — of the “Nouvelle Cuisine” that upended French (and eventually international) gastronomy in the late 1960s and 1970s, died on June 25 at his home in southwestern France.

Senderens came to prominence after opening L’Archestrate in Paris’ upscale 7th arrondissement in 1968, following a stint on the kitchen staff at the historic Lucas Carton on the Place de la Madeleine. In his own restaurant, Senderens earned early critical praise and eventually, in 1978, three Michelin stars. In 1985, he moved on to take over his former home at Lucas Carton. (The old L’Archestrate premises are now occupied by the three-star L’Arpège, run by Alain Passard, one of Senderens’ protégés).

In the beautifully appointed Lucas Carton, with its elaborate Art Nouveau interior, Senderens served such innovative dishes as foie gras wrapped in steamed cabbage leaves and seasoned with coarse salt and pepper and an acclaimed duck dish, inspired by ancient Roman gastronomy, involving a heavily spiced honey glaze. He is also credited with having initiated the practice there of offering wine pairings by the glass with each course.

Though he retained his three Michelin stars at Lucas Carton, Senderens famously renounced the honor in 2005, changing the name of the restaurant to simply Senderens, banishing luxury ingredients from his kitchen, and lowering prices by as much as two-thirds. The good reviews kept coming, and though the chef announced that he was no longer interested in Michelin stars, the influential guidebook gave his simplified establishment two of them anyway.

Senderens retired in 2014, with chef Julien Dumas, a veteran of the Hôtel de Crillon dining room and other Parisian restaurants, taking over at the establishment — which has reclaimed its old name of Lucas Carton.

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No cause of death for Senderens was given.