Swiss police say three-star chef Benoît Violier, whose restaurant near Lausanne recently topped a list of the world's best, has been found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot. He was 44.

Police said in a statement that Violier was found dead in his home late Sunday afternoon in the municipality of Crissier. An investigation has been opened to determine the exact circumstances of the death, police said.

Violier's establishment, the Restaurant de l'Hotel de Ville in Crissier, served dishes such as saddle of Pyrenean young lamb and crispy Landes duck foie gras.

Last year, it was ranked first on a French government-sponsored list of the world's top 1,000 restaurants.

Restaurant de l'Hotel de Ville is touted as a three-star culinary establishment under the French Michelin Guide — the highest rating in a worldwide review. The guide says when a restaurant earns that many stars it's considered to have "exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey."

One of France's leading chefs, Paul Bocuse, praised Violier as a "great chef, great man and a giant talent."

"We are shocked by the death of Benoît Violier, a chef of immense talent," a Michelin Guide tweet said.

The fast-paced and highly competitive environment of some professional kitchens can foster mental-health issues and addiction, according to those who work in the industry.

The pressure of maintaining a high Michelin star status was reported to be too much for 52-year-old renowned French chef Bernard Loiseau, who shot and killed himself in 2003.

An article in Vanity Fair published last year said Loiseau had told a friend that if he were to lose a star, he would kill himself. The article said the chef committed suicide amid speculation that the Michelin guide was about to pull his third star.

With files from CBC News