Paul Bocuse poses in the kitchen of his restaurant, l'Auberge du Pont de Collonges, near Lyon, in 2012.
CNN  — 

Paul Bocuse, a renowned chef credited with transforming French cuisine, has died at age 91, the French interior minister said Saturday.

“Paul Bocuse is dead. Gastronomy is in mourning. Mister Paul was France. Simplicity and generosity. Excellence and the art of living. The Pope of gourmets is leaving us,” Gerard Collomb said on Twitter.

Bocuse was among the key figures in the creation of French nouvelle cuisine. He earned a coveted third Michelin star in 1965 and was named Chef of the Century by the prominent Gault Millau restaurant guide in 1987.

His restaurant, the Auberge du Pont de Collonges, near Lyon, has now held its three Michelin stars for a half century. A truffle soup and sea bass stuffed in a puff pastry shell are among Bocuse’s signature dishes there.

In 1987, he launched what has become a prestigious international gastronomy contest, the Bocuse d’Or, in which chefs from around the world compete to create the best dishes in front of a live audience.

Bocuse was made a Commander of the Legion of Honor, one of France’s highest civilian awards, in 2004.

‘The angels will have a feast today’

French President Emmanuel Macron paid tribute to Bocuse as the “epitome of French cuisine” in a statement released by the Elysée Palace.

“His name alone summed up French gastronomy in its generosity, its respect for tradition but also its inventiveness,” Macron said.

Bocuse was loyal to his roots and to his friends in the world of gastronomy, Macron said. He also trained generations of French and foreign chefs, letting them in on the secrets of his culinary genius.

“Today French gastronomy is losing a mythical figure that profoundly transformed it,” he added. “The chefs cry in their kitchens, at the Elysée and everywhere in France. But they will continue his work.”

High profile Spanish-American chef José Andrés was among those to pay tribute to Bocuse on Twitter, saying: “The angels will have a feast today. Paul Bocuse has joined them.”

British chef and TV presenter James Martin said he was saddened to hear that “the greatest of them all” had passed away, adding, “RIP the boss Paul Bocuse.”

American celebrity chef Tom Colicchio described Bocuse as “the giant (whose) shoulders we all stood on.”

CNN’s Jamie Gray in London contributed to this report.