Joël Robuchon is reported to have died of pancreatic cancer in Geneva this morning. At the time of his death his 13 restaurants still held 24 stars.
Robuchon, who was named "Chef of the Century" by French restaurant guide Gault & Millau in 1989, started his professional career in the kitchen at the age of 15, going on to gain 31 Michelin stars.
Robuchon was seen as the pioneer of the post-nouvelle movement, shaking up haute cuisine and serving as a mentor to Gordon Ramsay, who compared working for him to doing a stint for the SAS.
Following his death, Ramsay tweeted: "We've lost the godfather of Michelin, the most decorated chef in the world. He kept all of us on our toes - even when we were sleeping! Merci Chef, God bless, you'll be missed."
Industry leaders from across the world have led tributes to the chef, with Midsummer House's Daniel Clifford calling it a "sad, sad day."
Jean-Dominique Senard, president of the Michelin group said: "Joël Robuchon was a unique man, an extraordinary chef who revolutionised French cuisine, and trained and inspired a whole generation of chefs.
"Through his talent and creativity, he has contributed to the highest degree to restore gastronomy to its nobility and elevate it to the status of a recognised art.
"From his restaurant Jamin, famous around the world, and through his Ateliers de Joël Robuchon, he became a true entrepreneur at the head of a gastronomic group which he has spread worldwide.
"Today the world of gastronomy and Michelin are in mourning, we lost an artisan, an artist and the most starred of chefs in the world, with 24 stars across 13 restaurants."
Claude Bosi, chef-patron of Claude Bosi at Bibendum wrote: "RIP Mr Robuchon and thank you for what you have given us and have done for the gastronomy Francaise".
Michel Roux jr. tweeted: "I loved every mouthful of food cooked by this man, sad loss . RIP Chef"
Born in 1945, Robuchon initially studied in a seminary and considered working in the church before starting as an apprentice in the kitchen at age 15.
At 29 he ran the pass at l'Hôtel Concorde Lafayette, winning the Meilleur Ouvrier de France before moving on to l'Hôtel Nikko.
He opened his first independent venture, Jamin, at 36, which went on to receive three Michelin stars, gaining one in three subsequent guides and making the restaurant the fastest in Michelin's then history to have reached the group's pinacle rating.
Robuchon went on to open his self-titled restaurant, which was named the ‘Best Restaurant in the World' by the International Herald Tribune in 1994.
A year later he retired from the pass at the age of 50 to focus on handing his knowledge down to future generations of chefs, but still kept his finger on the pulse of international cuisine.
After a period of work in books and broadcasting, he returned to the fray in 2003, developing the L'Atelier concept, which spread around the world and picked up scores of stars.
He also chaired the committee for Larousse Gastronomique to preserve French cooking techniques for generations to come.
The L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon outpost in London won a Michelin star within its first four months of business, following universal praise among critics for its cooking and The Caterer's Menu of the Year Catey in 2007. It was a brave move to open on the same street as the Ivy, but judges described how Robuchon turned a "once-risky site into a celebrated destination".
Picture credit: Gordon Ramsay