Today, we woke to news that one of the world’s most celebrated chefs, Benoît Violier, had taken his own life.
The 44-year-old shot himself just one month after he was voted the best chef in the world.
In December, Violier’s famed restaurant, Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville – which is booked months in advance – was named the best out of 1000 restaurants in 48 countries by France’s La Liste. The prestigious award was presented at the French foreign ministry.
Naturally, questions are swirling as to what would inspire the handsome and charismatic chef, who was on top of his profession and in the prime of his life, to do such a thing.
From the outside, Violier’s self-made life seemed like a dream come true; in additional to his professional success, he was married to a beautiful woman, had a 12-year-old son, and enjoyed an active social life. Life had thrown some recent curveballs, however, with the loss of his father last April and the death of his mentor, the great Swiss chef Philippe Rochat, a few months later.
By now, we know that mental health issues don’t discriminate, and that things like depression can affect anyone – from a pretty and popular university student to Hollywood stars. Famous chefs are not immune either. It should be noted, however, that there is currently no indication that Violier suffered from mental health issues. Though some have been quick to point to the pressures faced by top chefs.
Violier isn’t the first celebrity chef to take his own life; in 2003, one of France’s most renowned chefs, 52-year-old Bernard Loiseau, shot himself with a hunting rifle. Reportedly depressed, overworked, and in heavy debt, Loiseau had recently lost points in a prestigious food guide.
In the coming days, further information will likely paint a clearer picture of the potential factors involved in the suicide. In the meantime, the death serves as another chilling and hard-hitting reminder that there is no typical “face” for suicide.