Claude Bouchet, 53, a well-known French chef in Washington who had prepared gourmet food at such places as the Jockey Club and the restaurants of the Kennedy Center, died yesterday at the Washington Hospital Center. He had suffered from a heart ailment.
In April, he and his wife, Marie Francoise, and two sons, Patrick and Jean-Claude, had opened a family-run restaurant, the Claude Bouchet, on Connecticut Avenue NW.
Before that, Mr. Bouchet had spent two years at the Jockey Club. It was his second tour of duty there. During the 1960s, he had been in charge of the club kitchen for 8 1/2 years.
Mr. Bouchet became chef of the kitchen that serves the three restaurants of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts when it was completed in 1971.
It was reported then that he had been overcome with delight at the elaborate kitchen. But he stayed for only a year, moving on to the Club La Toqne d'Argent in the Wellington Hotel here.
While he was at the Kennedy Center, he was named "Chef of the Year" by the Association of Master Chefs of France. He was the first non-New Yorker to win the award and 40 French chefs from that city traveled to Washington to partake of a dinner he had prepared for them.
Mr. Bouchet was born in Pouray, France, where his parents had a small restaurant and hotel.He began his formal training in the kitchen at the age of 13 as an apprentice pastry chef in Tours and three years later was a full-fledged pastry chef.
From there, Mr. Bouchet moved to Paris and the well-known Chez Prunier. When he was only 19 years old, the Germans moved in and transported him to Germany. He survived forced labor there to return to France and Chez Prunier while working for the French underground in World War II. Later he worked for the president of the Culimary Association of Paris.
Mr. Bouchet came to this country in 1948 as head chief of the French Embassy in Washington. He also served briefly as chief at the Venezmela and Argentina embassies.
After four year at the Woodmer Hotel, he went back to French in 1950 to care for the hotel and restaurant of his parents. Two years later be returned to Washington to run the Jockey Club kitchen.
Mr. Bouchet, who won eight Holiday Magarone awards for his prowess as a chef, was a member of the Master Chefs of Paris Association, the Epicream Club, L'Amicale Culimaire and the French War Veterans.
In addition to his wife and sons all of the home in Chevy Chase, he is survived by a sister, France Martinet, of France.