He loved butter and practical jokes, had an insatiable appetite and was inclined to start his mornings by shaving outdoors with two magnums of Champagne on ice by his side. At one point, nearly half of the Michelin three-star chefs in France had trained in his kitchen.
It's no wonder that Fernand Point is revered by modern chefs and "Ma Gastronomie" -- a book about him and his restaurant, the legendary La Pyramide -- has a cult following. But the book has been out of print for decades, a situation that has been corrected with a new English edition published by Rookery Press.
It's the book chefs love to love -- chefs such as Thomas Keller, who wrote the new introduction, and Charlie Trotter. If you've seen the first English edition of "Ma Gastronomie," published in 1974, you might be surprised. It certainly isn't the coffee table book, filled with lush photographs and detailed recipes, we've come to expect from cookbook publishers. A recipe for sole hollandaise is three sentences; the first one is: "Cook a whole, well-cleaned sole in a court-bouillon and place it on a platter."
But the book still draws food-loving readers, if not for its recipes then for its portrait of a man wholly devoted to the spirit of dining.