French-Swiss chef Benoit Violier was found dead Sunday at his home in Crissier, in the Swiss suburb of Lausanne. The 44-year-old, whose restaurant was named the best in the world in December, died in an apparent suicide, police reportedly said.
“Late in the afternoon, police ... went to Crissier where they discovered at his home the body of Mr Benoit Violier,” Swiss police reportedly said in a statement, adding that it appeared Violier had shot himself.
Police said that an investigation is underway into the death of Violier, who ran the Restaurant de l'Hôtel de Ville in Crissier.
Swiss news website 24 Heures reported that Violier was due to attend the launch of the new Michelin guide in Paris on Monday.
Violier was born in the French coastal city of La Rochelle into a family of winemakers. He had worked at the Restaurant de l'Hôtel de Ville since 1996, and later took it over along with his wife Brigitte in 2012, before obtaining Swiss nationality. He was named Chef of the Year in 2013 by the Gault & Millau guide, which holds a second ranking after the Michelin guide among gourmets.
Swiss chef Frédy Girardet, who has received three Michelin stars, told local news website 24 Heures that he was "dumbfounded" by the news. "He was a brilliant man," Girardet reportedly said. "Such talent, and an amazing capacity for work. He was so kind, with so many qualities. He gave the impression of being perfect."
French chef Pierre Gagnaire also tweeted: "My thoughts go out to Benoit Violier's family. Very sad news about an extremely talented chef."