Allyssa Lee
May 23, 2005 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Perfectionist

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Rudolph Chelminski
publisher
Gotham
genre
Nonfiction

We gave it a B+

To the outside world, Bernard Loiseau’s life could not have been better. He was a renowned chef with an ebullient (though bipolar) personality who was adored by diners and staff alike, and his Burgundy restaurant La Cote d’Or was awarded three Michelin stars — the highest honor. So it sent shock waves worldwide when Loiseau, 52, put a gun to his head and took his own life on Feb. 24, 2003. (His GaultMillau rating had just dropped two points.) Rudolph Chelminski, a friend of Loiseau’s, sympathetically recounts the meteoric rise and untimely fall of one of France’s premier chefs. While it lacks the quick-paced dish of Kitchen Confidential, Perfectionist effectively reveals the pressure-cooker atmosphere among a culinary elite dominated by intense rivalries, fickle reviewers, and hypercritical chefs for whom there’s no such thing as second best.

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