Could you define the Bocuse d’Or in a few words?
It is really the greatest of gastronomy shows. The first time I went there, I was a young chef. We also went to Paul Bocuse’s restaurant and that was an amazing experience. The music, the excitement, and the atmosphere, it’s so important for gastronomy!
You are the President of Honour of the Bocuse d’Or Europe, what does that represent for you?
I’m very pleased and honoured. I really have the greatest respect for the contest that I follow assiduously as it addresses techniques and major topics for our trade. The Bocuse d’Or embodies our art through a spectacular event that showcases our skills and talent to the whole world. I feel very privileged.
• Which chefs inspire you the most?
I have crossed the path of many chefs in my career. I worked for several years with Gordon Ramsay for instance, but Thomas Keller and Alain Ducasse also inspire me every day. The way they manage their business, the quality of their work and their brands is phenomenal.
Dominique Crenn or Anne-Sophie Pic for instance inspire you very much. Do you think that women are sufficiently well-represented in the restaurant industry?
It is indeed a fact that there are less women at the head of prestigious restaurants and we need to work more on this aspect. However, there are more women working in the industry, younger women who work at the highest level. I hope that this will improve further with the next generations. It is essential that women be visible in our trade and this is something that should be normal.
You have a close relationship with your producers, why is that?
We select a product and set out to find a producer. We call upon our network of suppliers, then we go out to meet the producers. We observe the products and exchange to see what can be done to extend the possibilities. For instance, we found that it is possible to grow wasabi in England, that was a surprise. This wasabi is grown in what is known as the Victorian Waterbeds, zones that were created in the Victorian period to cultivate watercress. All English villages used to grow cress with great care as it is excellent for the health. It was then sent to London by train in wagonloads! The Watercress beds fell progressively into disuse over time, but some entrepreneurs have decided to use them now to grow fresh wasabi. That’s the kind of surprise we can have when we go out to meet the producers.
How do you perpetuate your British gastronomic heritage?
I think it is important to look at modern UK, but also to consider its history. For example, why we used to eat certain foods and why we still have an appetite for certain dishes and products today. Food and gastronomy have changed radically in the United Kingdom over the past thirty or forty years, especially haute cuisine. Today, we have many producers and suppliers close by who help us to find quality products and help us build our cuisine. It is important to understand where we come from.
Restaurant Core – Notting Hill, London
President of Honour - Bocuse d’Or Europe