Willy O. Rossel, Swiss-born American chef, died at 94

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Willy Otto Rossel, born on April 4, 1921and died September 14, 2015, Willy was an internationally known Chef de Cuisine or Executive Chef most noted for his extensive work in the preparation of gourmet airline cuisine.

In 1965, Willy was hired by the progressive Dallas-based Braniff Airways, Inc., to administer the airline’s commitment to providing its passengers with the finest food aloft.

Also in 1965, Braniff had begun implementing its revolutionary End of the Plain Plane Campaign, which called for an unprecedented change in the way the airline presented itself to the public.

This campaign not only included a change in the company’s look but an upgrade of its inflight cuisine to gourmet status. Willy authored the first manual used for the apprenticeship of American chefs.

Willy Rossel was born in Tramelan, Switzerland, and had descended from a famous poet who was a Statesman named Virgil Rossel.

Willy was one of five brothers and sisters, and his father, Julius Caesar Rossel, was a well-known watchmaker and collector of pocket watches, which was later bought by Bulova. Willy’s mother, a caretaker, was known simply as Moma Rossel.

His family had traditionally been watchmakers in Switzerland but Willy left his family home in Zurich at the age of 16 to pursue his love for cooking.

As a young boy, Willy remembered going on camping trips with his friends in the woods of Switzerland, where he cooked baked potatoes and spaghetti.

At the age of five or six, he would go into the woods to pick mushrooms and berries for cooking.

In his teens, he bicycled to cook at a small restaurant in Vien, Switzerland, which was his first job as a cook.

During World War II, Willy served as a Private in the Swiss Army and as a cook.

He received his initial culinary arts training in Zurich, followed by London, Paris, Rome and Venice.

Willy learned cooking from a small book. Each chef, he cooked with inscribed the book and then recommend him to the next chef or a job as an apprentice cook.

This was how he trained as a chef, which was common in Europe.

Later in life he traveled with his son, Seymour, throughout Europe and visited many restaurants where they were treated like royalty and were given the local chef’s finest and latest creations.

Willy O. Rossel died at age 94 on September 14, 2015.

 

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