His dishes represented a clean break from the traditionally fussy French haute cuisine and he is revered as the most influential chef of the nouvelle cuisine era.
Born in Poitiers, France, his father Henri was a mason and his mother Julienne a housewife.
Originally wanting to train as a priest, Robuchon’s passion for cooking was ignited as a child when he helped in the seminary kitchens.
In 1960, at the age of 15, he became an apprentice pastry chef at the Relais du Poitiers and six years later joined the Compagnon du Tour de France as an apprentice chef.
During this time he travelled around France and learnt a variety of regional techniques which set the foundations for the gastronomic refinement of his mature years.
By 1974 he had been appointed head chef at the Hotel Concorde La Fayette, Paris, where he managed 90 chefs serving a thousand dishes a day.
In a sign of things to come, in 1981 Robuchon opened Jamin, a Parisian restaurant which racked up a Michelin star every year for its first three years.
Despite its high prices, it soon had a two-month waiting list for reservations.
With simplicity his forte, Robuchon would say, “You don’t need expensive or exotic ingredients to create great cuisine” and it was his grandmother’s mashed potato recipe with plenty of butter that became his signature dish.
Such was his impact on the scene that by 1989 Robuchon had been named “Chef of the Century” by the Gault & Millau restaurant guide.
Around this time the young but “difficult” Gordon Ramsay joined his kitchen and it was said Robuchon once threw a plate at the aspiring chef in exasperation at his arrogant attitude.
At the age of 50, Robuchon enjoyed a short-lived retirement, switching to hosting culinary shows on French TV and publishing a number of cookbooks.
He returned to cooking in 2006, opening 12 branches of his chain L’Atelier du Joël Robuchon, in places as far afield as London, Las Vegas, Tokyo and Beijing.
He died at his home in Geneva following a long battle with cancer.
Robuchon is survived by his wife Janine, whom he married in 1966, and children Sophie and Louis.