Described as a “the mother of French cooking” and hailed for her fresh, simple cuisine, Eugenie Brazier would have been celebrating her birthday on June 12.
In her honour, Google is changing its logo in 11 countries to a doodle, or illustration, of her with a steam-clouded Doodle.
This is her story:
Orphan at an early age
Born in the Burgundian village of Bourg-en-Bresse in 1895 on a farm near Lyon, Brazier became an orphan at age ten.
Raised by impoverished peasants, Brazier began working in the fields at a very young age.
She attended school sporadically, but would define herself as someone “ready for anything that might challenge” her.
- At the age of 19, she left for Lyons and got a job as a domestic before going to work in a restaurant. She started working for La Mere Fillioux, the celebrated provincial chef who employed only women.
At age 26, the cook opened first restaurant of her own, inspired by Mere Fillioux’s simple menu.
The restaurant became a culinary destination, attracting French Presidents and Prime Ministers as well as celebrities.
In 1928, she opened Le Col de la Luere, and her emphasis in simplicity led Michelin Guides, the oldest European hotel and restaurant reference guide, to give her restaurants the coveted three-star ranking as early as 1935.
This was the first time a woman would be recognised with the most stars simultaneously.
The New York Times obituary, said she is remembered for turning down a citation for the French Legion of Honor, feeling, “it should be given out for doing more important things than cooking, and doing the job as you’re supposed to.”
- In 1968, however, Michelin demoted her Le Col de la Luere restaurant to two stars, and Brazier retired four years later.
According to the New York times, Brazier’s granddaughter, AnneMarie, said losing the Michelin star really hurt: “Truthfully, it hurt her a lot. The idea of celebrity didn’t appeal to her a bit, but here was somebody saying her work was less well done. That was bad.”
I have always been mindful of who I am
Two years before she died in 1977, Brazier began working on a cookbook.
It remained unfinished for decades, but got published by the family members in 2009 under the title Les secrets de la Mere Brazier.