René Bajeux, the beloved French chef who helmed the kitchens at the Grill Room at the Windsor Court, René Bistrot, La Cote Brasserie, and Dickie Brennan’s restaurant group during the course of his time in New Orleans, died of a heart attack this morning in Jackson, Mississippi, according to Brett Anderson. He was 61.
Bajeux moved to New Orleans in 1997 to take over as executive chef at the revered Grill Room in the Windsor Court Hotel. In 2001 he opened René Bistrot, where he served the food of his native France. Hurricane Katrina closed the restaurant, but he reopened it in 2012 in the Warehouse District’s Renaissance Arts Hotel. By 2013, he had left his namesake restaurant to work with the Marriott and then Dickie Brennan’s restaurants.
In a 2013 interview with Eater New Orleans, Bajeux spoke about his love for the Crescent City.
It’s a crazy city for a crazy guy [laughs]. I should not be here. Nobody should really be here, but I love it. It’s not the perfect American city, and it never will be, but it doesn’t have to be perfect, either. Looking in from the outside, New Orleans looks like a mess, but I don’t think it is. It’s ‘organized mess,’ it works. I don’t want it to be like New York or Chicago. I appreciate the difference of it.
One year into his his work at René Bistrot, he said, “I’m more excited than ever. I mean, I’m not getting any younger, but I’m certainly not getting any lazier. With me, I get more excited as I go.”
He never did slow down. This past summer, he took the executive chef position at the new Reunion Golf & Country Club in Madison, Mississippi, according to Mississippi Business Journal. The restaurant had just opened at the beginning of August.
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