Friday, August 13, 2010

The Mysterious Death of a French Chef

Chef Jean Poinard
I write of a true and tragic tale; one that sounds like a script for a movie. The people are real and the local family suffers a terrible loss.

Recently, I entered a contest to win a day in the kitchen with Chef Jean-Stephane Poinard, owner of Bistro de Leon in St. Augustine, Florida.  I always thought the restaurant name came from Ponce de Leon, the Spaniard who claimed he discovered the Fountain of Youth in that city.  Little did I realize the name also worked for Lyon, the city regarded as the culinary capital of France and former Poinard home. 

I hope to win the contest to naturally improve my cooking skills, impress my guests, and also to meet Chef Jean-Stephane as he seems so likeable in this video. He is a fifth generation chef and a true bon vivant. 

Sadly, the Poinard family learned of the death of Jean-Stephane's father on August 10.  His father, Chef Jean Poinard  ran the prestigious Restaurant de Paris and the Panier a Salade, both in Lyon.  He was fourth in line of France's "greatest cooking dynasties," according to Lyon's newspaper, Le Progress, and one of the great names in gastronomy. 

Regrettably I share this story: Jean Poinard's former girlfriend confessed to his murder and hiding the body in a freezer for the past two years.  I know, it's unimaginable.

Chef Jean-Stephane of St. Augustine issued this statement:

“The last time I saw my Father was June, 2007, just before my family and I came to the U.S. There are so many things I never finished with my Father and sadly, the best part of his life was still ahead. He was an amazing chef and pastry chef, a perfectionist who loved people and to share the pleasures of his food. He was a true Epicurean who was loved and respected by his colleagues. As one of France’s top chefs, he was known for his ‘cuisine and charisma’.

Unfortunately, for many years he was a different man from the Father I knew growing up, actually before his relationship with Guylene Collober. Somehow she isolated him from everyone he loved. It was a mystery to me and to our entire family why he seemed to always be under a spell, even seemed to be caught in a spider web of strange occurrences. We all recognized that she knew how to manipulate my Father and cut him from people who loved him. One by one, he lost communication with his friends, culinary colleagues and family members. In fact, for over a year when I came to America I kept my French phone # and hoped that one day he would call but it never happened. Even our children wrote him letters and cards with no replies. His birthday was May 5th and it was very difficult not to call him each year to wish him well.

We are very private people so I prefer not to go to France to his funeral. Once the gossip and spotlight have dimmed, I will go to pay my respects with my family. For now, I want to protect my children who are twelve and thirteen. I want to remember my Father as the incredible man who inspired me in my career”.

Chef Jean-Stephane, I respect your actions and words and send my condolences.

1 comment:

Marina K. Villatoro said...

That sure looks like something for a movie. Interesting story :)