7 April 1930|
Commentry, Allier, France
|Died||5 June 2015
Roger Vergé (7 April 1930 – 5 June 2015) was a French chef and restaurateur. He is considered one of the greatest chefs of his time. The Gault Millau described him as "the very incarnation of the great French chef for foreigners".
His father was a blacksmith. He said he was inspired to learn cooking from his aunt Célestine, to whom he dedicated many of his books. He began work under Alexis Chanier at restaurant Le Bourbonnais in his aunt's hometown, and trained at the Tour d'Argent and the Plaza Athénée, before leaving France to work in Africa. He worked in the restaurant of Mansour de Casablanca (in Morocco), L'Oasis (in Algeria) and in Kenya. Back in Europe, he worked in the restaurants of Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo (in Monaco) and Le Club de Cavalière (in Le Lavandou, France).
Vergé was known for his contemporary cooking style, often named cuisine du soleil, a variation of Provençal cuisine. Together with Paul Bocuse, Gaston Lenôtre (1920–2009) and others, he is credited with inventing nouvelle cuisine, although Bocuse says that the term was invented by Henri Gault. The focus of Vergé's cooking style was on fresh, local ingredients, in a departure from traditional cuisine classique.
“The ‘cuisine heureuse’ is the antithesis of cooking to impress — rich and pretentious,” he wrote in the preface to his first cookbook, “Cuisine of the Sun.” “It is a lighthearted, healthy and natural way of cooking which combines the products of the earth like a bouquet of wild flowers from the garden.”
Vergé denounced the extremes of the nouvelle cuisine movement. “It is a joke,” he stated to Nation’s Restaurant News in 1985. “It is nothing serious. Now it looks Japanese: large dishes, small portions, no taste, but very expensive.”
Restaurants and other business ventures
Vergé opened his famous Moulin de Mougins in 1969 with his wife Denise. Celebrated as one of France’s most prominent restaurants, a troop of future culinary stars trained there, such as Alain Ducasse, David Bouley and Daniel Boulud. The restaurant’s location near Cannes enabled celebrity guests to arrive from the film festival.
In 1982, he opened the France Pavilion in Walt Disney World's Epcot Center together with Paul Bocuse and Gaston Lenôtre. At the time of opening, the pavilion contained two restaurants: Les Chefs de France and Le Bistro de Paris (now called Monsieur Paul). He also opened a restaurant in Rockefeller Center, Medi, in 2001, but departed after less than a year.
Vergé was awarded a Michelin star for the Moulin de Mougins three times in 1970, 1972, and 1974 (three star) . In 1972, he was made Meilleur Ouvrier de France in the category Métier de bouche. In 1987, he was made Chevalier of the Legion of Honor and Maître Cuisinier de France. The first edition of the International Gastronomy Festival of Mougins, also known as Les Étoiles de Mougins, was dedicated to Vergé in September 2006.
Vergé wrote several books on food preparation. Most famous among them isMa Cuisine du Soleil (1978), translated as Cuisine of the Sun. However, Vergé also wrote another series of books, the titles of which are probably a word play on Lettres de mon moulin by Alphonse Daudet:
- Les Fêtes de Mon Moulin (1993) published as Entertaining in the French Style in English.
- Les Légumes de Mon Moulin (1994), translated as Roger Vergé's Vegetables in the French Style.
- Les Tables de Mon Moulin (1998) published as New Entertaining in the French Style in English.
- Les Fruits de Mon Moulin (1999), translated as Roger Vergé's Cooking with Fruit.
- Roger Vergé in The Baltimore Sun, 10 March 1991
- "Le chef Roger Vergé est mort". Nice-Matin (in French). 6 June 2015. Retrieved 8 June 2015.
- Marc Delages' Blog
- "Roger Verge (Retired) formerly of Moulin de Mougins – Mougins, France". Great Chefs. Retrieved 8 June 2015.
- Roger Vergé on the l'Hottelerie et Restauration website
- Grimes, William (8 June 2015). "Roger Vergé, a Founder of Nouvelle Cuisine, Dies at 85". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 June 2015.
- "High cuisine from a revered French chef". Vermont Today. 10 March 2015. Retrieved 8 June 2015.
- Merwin, Hugh (8 June 2015). "Master Chef Roger Vergé Has Died — This Is His Legacy". Grubstreet. Retrieved 8 June 2015.
- Biography of Roger Vergé on the Amandier website
- Roger Vergé in the Orlando Sentinel
- (in French) The sale of Le Moulin de Mougins in l'Hottelerie et Restauration
- Roger Vergé in The New York Times
- (in French) Roger Vergé on the Art et Gastronomie website
- Hall, David (7 June 2015). "Roger Verge – Chef Of The Sun – Is Dead". TopChefs. Retrieved 8 June 2015.
- Article in the Hürriyet Daily News, 16/03/1997
- Roger Vergé on the Les Étoiles de Mougins website