A decorated chef has been forced to retire early and put his award-winning restaurant on the market following a horror incident near his home.
A decorated chef has been forced to retire early and put his award-winning restaurant on the market following a horror incident near his home.

Decorated chef forced to quit job after horror incident

QUEENSLAND'S most decorated chef has hung up his apron and put his award-winning Bardon restaurant, Lutece, on the market.

Frenchman Romain Bapst, 63, said he had been forced into early retirement after three years of pain following a horrific smash at Sumner Park near his home in Brisbane's west in July 2017.

He has endured multiple surgeries on his spine, his legs, his knees and a foot.

"Sadly I have closed. I wanted to go another couple of years but I just can't do it anymore," he said.

Chef Romain Bapst has had multiple surgeries since his accident in 2017/
Chef Romain Bapst has had multiple surgeries since his accident in 2017/

The son of a Strasbourg butcher said he couldn't sleep for the first eight months after the accident because of the unbearable pain.

"But I am leaving happy. I have been blessed to live in Australia for 30 years."

He tried to make a comeback but experienced mental anguish each time he put the key in the door to open up.

"My body wasn't coping anymore," he said.

The ordeal cost him his marriage, his career _ and almost his sanity. "I wasn't pleasant to be with. I was an angry husband all the time.

"I went to a psychiatrist for help."

Lutece in Bardon is on the market. Picture: AAP/Steve Pohlner
Lutece in Bardon is on the market. Picture: AAP/Steve Pohlner

Bapst fell in love with Australia during a holiday to Margaret River in Western Australia in the 80s and returned to take a job at leading Melbourne restaurant Mietta's.

From there he went to Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays when Peter Abeles and Rupert Murdoch turned it into one of the world's great tourism attractions. He set up a private chef's table for the pair with Murdoch usually feasting on the coral trout and Abeles the beef.

Next he cooked at Pruniers at Woollahra in Sydney, a hide-out for John Laws, John Singleton and Rodney Adler, before being lured to Il Centro in Brisbane where he cooked for more than a decade for three different lord mayors and leading lawyers. He also cooked at Drift and Broadwater before opening Lutece.

Along the way he was awarded the French l'Ordre du Mérite Agricole, the Order of Agricultural Merit.

Bapst said he was leaving happy but with some disappointments. He believes the standard of cooking has gradually declined since 2005.

"That's when Generation Y arrived. They can't take criticism. And the work ethic diminished."

Originally published as Why Qld's most decorated chef has been forced to quit


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