French master pastry chef Gaston Lenotre died at his home Thursday at the age 88, his company said.

The company in Paris released a statement saying Lenotre died after a long illness at his home in the central French region of Sologne.

Lenotre, who built a worldwide empire with his gourmet dessert creations, opened his first pastry shop in 1957 in Paris. The shop soon after attracted loyal clientele. Later it was sold in 1985 to the Accor group of hotels and services and has since earned worldwide recognition.