Obituary: Jacques Pic

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The Independent Online
JACQUES PIC was one of the greatest of French chefs, honoured by his country with the Legion d'Honneur, writes Raymond Blanc.

The Pic tradition dated back to 1891 when Eugene Pic, Jacques' grandfather, and his wife transformed a little cafe into a hotel, looking after local travellers and hunters who aspired to better food and hospitality.

When Jacques teamed up with his father Andre in the kitchen at Valence, the two men complemented each other perfectly and their fame became worldwide. In 1957 Jacques married Suzanne, who became the host of the Pic restaurant. Jacques Pic then became the head of the family business and established his own style, both in cuisine and in hospitality. From their happy marriage they had two children, Anne-Sophie and Alain. Jacques and Alain complemented and enriched each other's craft, making their cuisine the epitome of tradition with a modern approach.

Jacques Pic was well respected and loved in our profession. He was not considered a major force in the development of cooking, and his cuisine was not particularly light - his menu rabelaisien was the most delightfully decadent gastronomic feast - but he had style and creativity and his name was synonymous with excellence. Among the dishes for which he became famous were his salade des pecheurs au xeres, chausson aux truffes, filet de loup au caviar and a foie de canard aux raisins porto.

It was delectable cuisine, but more important was the spirit in which it was given. For Jacques Pic's greatest quality was his modesty and generosity; I have rarely met such kindness in a man. All my colleagues of 'tradition et qualite' remember fondly wonderful moments spent with Jacques Pic and his family.

In August, I took a few days' holiday with my children and we stopped at Pic. We were totally overwhelmed. We were given a magnificent lunch and then, as we were leaving, Jacques packed all sorts of petits gateaux, chocolates and mineral water for our journey. But then, making people happy was Jacques Pic's whole purpose; for him, the pleasure of giving was just as important as the pleasure of making.

We will miss him, but the Pic tradition of magnificent cuisine and hospitality is safe in the hands of Mme Pic and their son Alain.