When it comes to fine food, beauty and great taste go hand in hand. What is your perception?
Beauty is a vital sensory expression consisting of transforming the ephemeral into a lasting memory. What matters is obviously the visual appeal of the dish, the arrangement and colour of the different elements, and the taste and smell, but also its depth and spirituality; which is how it stands the test of time and acquires staying power. We should be asking ”why” rather than ”how” we did it. Beauty creates pleasure and in the same way as with wine, we endeavour to incite emotion, through aesthetics and the senses, by playing on texture and temperature.
So by developing our own individual style and standing apart from our peers…
Interpretation does not preclude protecting our own identity. We have to find out who we are and not imitate the culinary style of another. Nowadays we literally devour chefs on Instagram, but it’s a digital vision of reality; in order to endure, there has to be a narrative. And to do this, create a distinctive style. The key to success is movement, a clear direction and drawing from the nature of things.
Would you agree with the notion that a chef is both artist and artisan?
There are three vital elements: technique, heat and time. Technique is key, essential even. We have a saying in the kitchen: “if it’s cut right, it tastes right”. It is also important
to follow instructions for timings and temperature, and finally, find the right rhythm, have enough time to produce the dish and also embrace the flow of the seasons.
What attracted you to Palmes d’Or?
First and foremost, the principal of a collective deeply rooted in human endeavour and the environment. I loved this idea of togetherness, that different people unite in a shared project. Through its grower collective, Nicolas Feuillatte has an impact on society and also on the environment, given that viticulture is inextricably linked to the soil; the brand therefore has an active role to play.
What kind of Champagne aficionado are you?
I discovered Champagne when I was in Bordeaux (Chef at Relais & Châteaux Cordeillan-Bages in Pauillac, editor’s note), and was able to try a fair few. I think you need to steer away from the clichés surrounding Champagne, such as Champagne cocktails or drinks parties, which in no way do it justice, nor credit the growers and the huge amount of work behind the scenes with the attention they deserve. In my view there are different moments for Champagne, especially paired with food. I measure the effort that goes into making these fine wines by the sheer magnitude of pairings possible with Champagne.
What would you serve with Palmes d’Or 2008 vintage?
Roast fish, served in a rich sauce, to play on the different textures. It’s more interesting than poaching as you have that added crunch to the texture, which works really well with the Champagne. With Palmes d’Or Rosé Intense, turbot with a hint of yuzu would work really well, and with the Brut, mackerel cooked two ways, or even sea bass mi-cuit or rare.