Does the name Eugénie Brazier mean anything to you?
In honour of women’s history month we’re taking a look at the history of Eugénie, the first female chef to be awarded three Michelin stars and the first person to ever be awarded six Michelin stars.
Known as ‘the mother of modern French cooking’ Eugénie was born in 1895 on a farm in Bourg-en-Bresse, Burgundy, on a farm located close to Lyon - French’s third largest city. As a child she would attend school only in the winter and the rest of the time work on her family’s farm.
In her twenties Eugénie became a mother and moved to the city Lyon for work, she worked multiple jobs, including cooking and later became employed by the chef Françoise Fayolle (nicknamed la mère Fillioux) who only hired women.
Eugénie didn’t stay long and at 26 years old in 1921 bought her own small shop originally to sell food but opened her first restaurant La Mère Brazier. This restaurant was later awarded not one but three Michilin stars between 1933 and 1968.
This restaurant has been described as simple and elegant, it was here that she gave an opportunity to other women in the community with every server at the restaurant being female.
“On opening day, she served lunch and dinner, crayfish with mayonnaise and pigeon with peas. It was a simple and elegant space, the main room had a large bay window overlooking the street and earthenware tile on the walls in cream, grey and blue.” an account from food blog, Eater.
Its simple, but effective, never-changing menu became a treasured culinary destination which attracted those high up in society including celebrities, French presidents and prime ministers.
Eight years after opening her first restaurant in 1928 Eugénie opened her second, called Le Col de la Luere. By 1935 she received another three Michelin stars for this restaurant, making her not only the first female to receive a three Michilin star ranking but the first person to receive six Michelin stars.
She was writing a cookbook which was left unfinished when she died in 1977, however the book titled Les Secrets de la Mere Brazier translating to The Mother of Modern French Cooking was finally published by her family in 2009.