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Rene Lasserre, 93; was renowned chef

PARIS -- Rene Lasserre, a chef who hosted celebrities from Salvador Dali to Robert de Niro in his eponymous and renowned restaurant in Paris, has died at age 93, colleagues said.

Mr. Lasserre died at his home in Morsang-sur-Seine, south of Paris, on Wednesday night, said Louis Canfailla, his business partner for 37 years.

In 1949, at just 36, Mr. Lasserre earned his first star in the venerable Michelin guide to French restaurants, and he went on to become one of the top names in French haute cuisine. The recipe for his duck à l'orange has been emulated worldwide.

He was praised for infusing the restaurant's decor and food with whimsy, such as mushrooms stuffed with foie gras and a movable roof that pulls back to reveal the sky -- an engineering marvel when it was unveiled in 1950.

Mr. Lasserre was also known for personally greeting diners.

In the latest edition of the Michelin guide, Mr. Lasserre earned two of three possible stars.

Born on Nov. 12, 1912, Mr. Lasserre left his native Bearn region in France's Basque country at age 12, and worked his way up through Paris's restaurants before opening his own in 1942, near the Champs Elysees.

A funeral date has not been set, Canfailla said.

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