Eugenie Brazier – Women Who Cook

There’s always a good time to celebrate a fabulous chef, and today we’re shining a spotlight on the remarkable Eugénie Brazier. While she may not be a household name, her legacy in the culinary world is nothing short of extraordinary. Brazier rose from modest beginnings to become the first woman to earn three Michelin stars and the first chef to hold six stars simultaneously.

Humble Beginnings

Eugénie Brazier, affectionately known as “La Mère Brazier,” was born in La Tranclière near Lyon and grew up on a small farm. From a young age, she was familiar with hard work, starting with tending pigs and horses. She began her culinary journey working as a cook in domestic service during her teenage years. Her talent in the kitchen quickly shone through, and she was soon taken on as a junior cook at a leading restaurant in Lyon. By 1921, she opened her own restaurant, La Mère Brazier, which rapidly became a symbol of Lyon’s culinary excellence.

Inspiration

Brazier’s approach to cooking was rooted in the traditions of Lyon’s famous female cooks, the Mères lyonnaises. She avoided overly elaborate dishes, instead focusing on simple yet high-quality ingredients and techniques. This philosophy not only won her acclaim but also influenced future generations of chefs, including culinary giants like Paul Bocuse and Bernard Pacaud, who trained under her guidance – you’ll often find a woman behind a great chef​.

In 1933, Eugénie Brazier made history by becoming the first chef to be awarded six Michelin stars, with three stars each for her two restaurants—one in the bustling Rue Royale in Lyon and another in a converted chalet at Col de la Luère. Her remarkable achievements remained unmatched until 1998, when Alain Ducasse equaled her record​.

Legacy

Eugénie’s contributions to French cuisine are commemorated through scholarships and annual prizes for culinary writing awarded in her name. Her recipes were compiled and published in 1977, and an English translation was released in 2014, allowing a broader audience to appreciate her culinary genius​.

Interestingly, Eugénie Brazier was offered the Légion d’honneur, France’s highest order of merit, but she modestly declined it. She even turned down a lucrative position at New York’s Waldorf Astoria, preferring to stay true to her roots in France. Her original restaurant in Lyon continued to flourish under her family’s management until it was acquired by Michelin-starred chef Mathieu Viannay in 2008, who has kept many of her classic dishes on the menu​.

Bring French cooking to your kitchen

As we celebrate Eugénie Brazier’s incredible legacy, we are inspired by her dedication to French culinary traditions and her influence on future generations of chefs. To honor her contributions to French cuisine, when you visit France, take the opportunity to immerse yourself in these culinary traditions with one of our cooking classes.

Eugénie Brazier was a pioneer who helped shape French cooking into the art form it is today. At Cook’n With Class, we strive to keep that spirit alive through our French Bistro Class and French Market Class. These classes offer a hands-on experience, much like how Brazier herself would have taught her students, emphasizing the importance of high-quality ingredients and traditional techniques.

By joining our cooking classes, you are not only learning to create delicious French dishes but also paying tribute to legends like Eugénie Brazier, whose passion and innovation continue to influence chefs worldwide. Come and be a part of this rich culinary heritage, and let’s cook up some magic together!

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