Shadow of a Falling Star

The suicide of a celebrated French chef puts a harsh spotlight on the killer culture of haute cuisine

"We are selling dreams. We are merchants of happiness," chef Bernard Loiseau once said. The ebullient Loiseau ran one of only 25 restaurants in France awarded three stars by the all-powerful Michelin guide. His Cote d'Or restaurant in Saulieu in Burgundy is a shrine to detail, to perfection on a plate. And like the other markets for dreams and happiness--films, say, or fashion or narcotics--it was a brutal pursuit. Loiseau had not taken a vacation in four years. He had planned one for this winter, but last week another French restaurant guide, GaultMillau, inexplicably reduced his ranking for the first time...

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