interview with Thibaut from Top Chef

Becoming a chef was not at all obvious to Thibaut: “It came very late. I didn’t want to do this with my life at first”, he says. After a BEP, he quickly enters the kitchens of prestigious restaurants. First commis chef at the Four Seasons at the George V, then chef de partie for Alain Senderens at the Lucas Carton, then he worked with Alain Ducasse as a sous chef for Jules Verne. He became a chef at the Hôtel Particulier in Montmartre before opening his own restaurant.

With Anona, the chef imagines the kitchen of tomorrow, local and sustainable. From the choice of ventilation to the dressing of the plate, nothing is left to chance. The place is designed to be completely ecologically responsible. His committed dishes earned him a green star in the Michelin guide.

With his food Bank Starving Club opened in 2022, the chef is not yet ready to make us dream. In addition, from 6 May he settles in the Fabula, the short-lived restaurant of the Carnavalet museum in Paris. A look at the career of this chef with unchanging ambition.

Konbini food | When did you know you would make cooking your profession?

Thibault | I had a classic science school curriculum and one day I told myself I wanted to do more useful work. I wanted to open a cool bar to feed my friends. It just happened to me, on a whim. I signed up for a cooking class at the Yvelines and little by little I found myself in the kitchens of great restaurants.

The further I progressed, the more I found that I loved it.

What do you like about this job?

From a very early age I liked working to make people happy in such a simple way. We can get instant feedback from a customer, whether they are satisfied or not. We are constantly evolving, we are always questioning ourselves. Of course it has a big impact on morale. Outside of the kitchen, I enjoyed participating in people’s daily joy.

I fell in love with gastronomy because it is the sublime version of cooking: we combine research with the artistic side.

Wilfried told us that we don’t “violent management” be successful in the kitchen. What do you say ?

When I started out, I clearly received an old-fashioned education. It was sporty at times, but at the time I had fun, because I was a little idiot. Sure enough, it taught me respect and authority.

It made me laugh then, but nowadays nobody in my restaurants has the right to raise their voice. I have exchanged the team spirit for a more family atmosphere. When I recruit, I make sure people like each other. I don’t read resumes, I do it by instinct, I recruit a lot with my brain.

There are already time restrictions, service restrictions… Physically and morally it’s already a tough job, so if you’re yelled at, your life doesn’t make much sense anymore. I stand in life as at work. It is important to me that my employees feel at home. I don’t want them thinking about work on the weekend or having a lump in their stomach when they come back on Monday.

In my opinion, good management is management where we understand the wealth of each chef.

What did you want to create with Anona?

With Anona we have thought of an ethical restaurant. We thought in particular about product ecology: we have a zero waste, zero waste policy, we remove containers, we try to use biodegradable products as much as possible… The restaurant’s fabrics and metals are French. The stainless steel in the kitchen is French. We only have the necessary equipment. Emissions are limited as much as possible. We don’t have any heat output in the kitchen, we use induction hobs.

I wanted an “example” restaurant. Of course it can always be better, but I pay attention to as many elements as possible. Every decision is considered. For me it goes hand in hand with a human team. I want the boys to rest, not to get exhausted, not to put in too much effort.

For the ventilation of the dining room we have a filter that purifies the air. We want to make living conditions pleasant and optimal.

You have adopted the same mentality for you food BankHungry Club?

We find this benevolent and eco-responsible cuisine, yes. For example, I had recruited an excellent cook, but after 15 days he started raising his voice. The next day he was fired. I think about the well-being of the employees, I ensure that working hours are adjusted… Even in the kitchen we find this environmentally friendly side. Everything is 100% homemade, the products come from Île-de-France, we pay attention to zero waste.

Why did you try it? top chef

I followed my path, I had different experiences. I think it never hurts to be in the spotlight, the show allows you to have a recognized name. It’s cool for my staff, for my regular customers. It brings in new ones and comforts old customers. Today, participating in the show is a huge stepping stone for a chef, it is a career accelerator.

It was a boost to my life. It’s worth it in the kitchen, of course, but it’s also a business strategy. This is the biggest argument in the kitchen these days. I see the former candidates of top chef like kitchen soccer players.

How did you experience the adventure?

I see the show as a summer camp for alumni. We are all between 25 and 35 years old, we like to cook and party. We were all locked up for two and a half months. These are beautiful memories, we haven’t seen each other since then. What remains is this family that originated.

What is your worst memory on set?

These are the last chance tests. You can see it in the photo: I’m furious, my hair is standing on end! Today, with my two restaurants, I spend most of my time in the office, so I lost the rhythm compared to other candidates, such as Pascal and Ambroise. I was physically undergoing the tests, it was difficult to maintain the allotted time.

Seniority creates experience, but sometimes you get lost in it… Glenn Viel said to me: “Your biggest mistake is your experience”, because we try to do the best. But that’s not it, the target on top chef† You need to know how to adapt to all the challenges, not necessarily show the full extent of our kitchen, of what we know how to do…

Which candidate do you think was most deserving?

Everyone brought something very special, I loved working with Louise and Wilfried. I like the tranquility of Will. As for Louise, she very quickly understood the principle of the show, she has impressive knowledge and creativity, she is a hard worker. I admired Pascal immensely. He is the youngest on the show, he has a positive energy, he is always cheerful. In fact, all the people I met I liked.

Who is the chef you would like to cook with?

Pierre Gagnaire! It was rave reviews on my plate. He is much admired. If I had to pick one person it would be him. I also really liked Glenn Viel, we got along very well. I’m only six years away from him, it pains me to say that…

What are your upcoming projects?

I have projects in progress for this summer and I hope that with all these projects we will be able to recruit people. That despite all the job shortages, we will try to motivate people to get back into the profession and that this will last as long as possible.

I would like to free up as much time as possible to spend time with my wife and son. I manage both restaurants at the same time: I start at 8am and sometimes finish at 2am. It is sometimes difficult to find your way. I’ve been doing this job for 18 years now, sometimes I need to breathe.

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