Widow of top chef Benoit Violier to run restaurant after his suicide

Brigitte Violier, giving tribute to her husband, French chef Benoit Violier, during his funeral in Montils, France, on Feb 6, 2016.
Brigitte Violier, giving tribute to her husband, French chef Benoit Violier, during his funeral in Montils, France, on Feb 6, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

GENEVA (AFP) - The widow of top French-Swiss chef Benoit Violier, whose Jan 31 suicide shocked the culinary world, said she would take charge of her husband's celebrated restaurant, in an interview published on Wednesday (Feb 10).

Brigitte Violier told Swiss magazine L'Illustre that her husband's former sous-chef, Franck Giovannini would run the kitchen at the Restaurant de l'Hotel de Ville Crissier, hailed as the best restaurant in the world just two months ago.

"Franck Giovannini is taking responsibility for the team, while I will have responsibility for the establishment as the manager, like I was until Benoit's death," Violier was quoted as saying.

She said she never considered quitting following the death of her husband, who was considered one of the world's finest chefs until he was found dead with his hunting rifle by his side at his home near Lausanne.

"We built this project together. I do not intend to abandon it," she told the magazine.

In the less than four years that the Violiers ran the restaurant, it received the maximum three Michelin stars and it was also named the "best restaurant in the world" by the French-based La Liste in December.

In 2013, Benoit Violier won chef-of-the-year in the prestigious Gault & Millau guide.

Brigitte Violier said she had no explanation for why her husband chose to end a life that appeared to be full and successful.

"He had everything. We had everything. There is no rational explanation," she told the Swiss weekly.

She categorically dismissed rumours circulating that her husband was the victim of a financial fraud involving rare wines.

"It's 100 per cent false. One hundred per cent false in substance and 100 per cent false in the details," she said, insisting that the restaurant's financial performance was solid.

In an interview given four days before his death at age 44, Violier said the accolades given to his small restaurant in a village outside Lausanne did not matter, and that his priority was to ensure his clients kept coming back.