Christian "Hitsch" Albin, 62, who fed the world's luminaries for decades as executive chef of the Four Seasons in New York City, died Saturday at New York University Medical Center less than a week after being diagnosed with cancer.
"He was our hero: the man we always turned to when we knew we had to achieve the impossible," said a statement from the 50-year-old restaurant's managing partners, Julian Niccolini and Alex von Bidder.
Albin put in 14-hour days at the restaurant off Park Avenue. With him in the kitchen, the Four Seasons won a James Beard Foundation Award, the culinary equivalent of an Oscar.
Albin trained in his native Switzerland before moving to the United States in the early 1970s. New York magazine once called him "a culinary Rip van Winkle, reawakening what was once too-familiar fare with subtle but surprisingly adventurous new flavors."
"He was always an old-school chef -- a strong, compassionate manager who treated everyone fairly while demanding the best from his cooks," Niccolini and von Bidder said.