Chef Benoit Violier

Chef Benoit Violier

A Swiss chef deemed the world’s best in December was found dead of an apparent suicide over the weekend.

Chef Benoit Violier of the prestigious Restaurant De L’Hotel De Ville Crissier-Suisse in Crissier, Switzerland, seemingly shot himself on Sunday at his nearby home, police said. The culinary master’s restaurant maintained a three-star Michelin rating by the industry and held the top spot in La Liste, France’s ranking of 1,000 restaurants in 48 countries.

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Patricia Zizza, who has worked with the world’s most elite chefs for decades, told the New York Times that pressure to perform at a high level may have pushed Violier, 44, over the edge.

“Chefs are in the theater and must produce great work, and there is strong pressure to maintain that excellence,” Zizza said Monday. “It requires an enormous amount of attention, from assuring the quality of the products to directing teams of people. And it entails many sacrifices, including to one’s personal life.”

Famous chef Bernard Loiseau, whose Côte d’Or maintained three Michelin stars, killed himself in Burgundy, France, in 2003 at the age of 52. Chicago chef Homaro Cantu of the Michelin-rated Moto killed himself last April at age 38.

The Guardian noted on Monday that Violier was also burdened with last year’s deaths of his father to Alzheimer’s disease and mentor Philippe Rochat in a cycling accident.

“An immense chef, an immense sadness, thoughts go out to his family and his team,” Michelin-starred chef Jean Francois Piege tweeted on Sunday.

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Violier ran Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville with his wife, Brigitte. Requests for comment were not immediately returned.

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