Paul Haeberlin, Michelin three-star restaurateur at Auberge de l’Ill in Alsace and Legionnaire of Honour, died this week at his home in Illhaeusern, France. He was 84.
Haeberlin, one of France’s most loved and well-recognised chefs, whose signature dish was mousseline of frog’s legs, long championed the Alsace wine industry. His sommelier, Serge Dubs, was named ‘Meilleur Sommelier du Monde’ in 1989.
Tributes have been pouring in from prominent winemakers both from the region and further afield.
‘He was the great chef of his generation, and both gastronomy and Alsace will be a poorer place without him,’ Pierre Trimbach told decanter.com, ‘He tirelessly promoted the white wines of Alsace through matching them with his peerless cuisine, and we owe him a great deal. I will remember him most, however, for his kindness and unfailing welcome at his wonderful restaurant.’
Auberge de l’Ill, located on the Ill river just outside of Colmar, has been considered one of France’s best restaurants for decades – it received its first Michelin star in 1952, gaining three in 1967.
Haeberlin has trained many international star chefs such as New York’s Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Hubert Keller of Fleur de Lys in San Francisco.
Paul Haeberlin was born in Illhaeusern, the third generation in a family of chefs.
He started at the Auberge, before the age of 14, in its first incarnation as a country inn – L’Abre Vert – owned by his grandparents. It was renamed Auberge de l’Ill after being destroyed in a bombing raid during World War II.
At 14, he apprenticed at Hôtel de la Pépinière in Ribeauvillé before moving to Paris to continue his training.
Haeberlin’s son Marc took over as chef a decade ago, although Haeberlin remained an active presence until his health deteriorated last year. His daughter Danielle runs the front of the house.
Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux