The French three-star chef and new Top Chef jury member was recently in Belgium. meeting.
Becoming a jury member at Top Chef had you already thought about that?
“I never told myself I would never do TV. I knew it was an opportunity because I had already had proposals from various channels, but I had always declined because I had too much work. I wanted to structure my kitchen, I was working on getting the third star and so chronologically it went really well.
But I specify, I took nobody’s place, of the chef changes there were always some in Top Chef. I have an arrival date and I would also have an exit, we have to make do with that. In any case, I am very well integrated into the Top Chef family. Whether it was the production, the cameramen, the makeup artists or the other chefs, they were all friendly. And this is just the beginning, I’ve been launched and I intend to continue Top Chef. Don’t underestimate the newbie (laughs)! †
Do you watch TV?
“I work a lot, so in the end I don’t watch it much, but when I get home at night, I have to put it on. Of course I don’t watch a cooking show (laughs), I almost put it on to rock. After 30 minutes there is no sound or picture! †
How does it feel to be France’s youngest three-star chef?
“I am no more, Dimitri Droisneau has taken my place! He was born nine days after me. But it was never a pressure for me, we all work hard and there is no dedicated leader who doesn’t give everything. I have not worked more or less than anyone else. We ask ourselves a lot of questions and always try to create more. I think this third star is the result of a good combination of encounters, fulfillment and good timing. †
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Nowadays, ecologically responsible cooking is increasingly being pushed forward. Is this an approach you are also trying to follow?
“I don’t want to be the teacher. It is true that we are at the head of the gondola and we have the opportunity to express ourselves through the media, so we have a message to convey. We do our best, but what we must not forget is that we do luxury, we use very fine products. We try to throw away as little organic matter as possible, for example we give the leftovers to the pigs. Is that enough? No, but that’s it. I think we should all consider the environmental impact, not just the cooks, it should be on everyone’s mind. This collective consciousness allows us to integrate seamlessly into nature. †
Arnaud Delvenne, the last Belgian candidate, is in your brigade. What was it like coaching him?
“Very difficult (laughs). No kidding, everything went well. He is a very nice, funny and fast person. He is an intelligent boy who has found his place as the trials have progressed. You should know that integrating into a competition like this is not easy. We will pick you up and place you in a great competition amid great structures, prestigious guest chefs. Some adapt very quickly, Arnaud took a little longer. But in the end it unfolds and goes very well. Even for me it was difficult in the beginning, I had to get my points. Arnaud came into my squad during the game and brought a new lease of life. He’s a happy guy, a teaser, he always has a joke to post at the right time. It’s a sniper shooter and it fits together perfectly. †
I was launched and I intend to continue Top Chef.
What is your favorite key?
“Actually, they’re all nice. And it’s true that the ones we choose may be the ones we win. But when you win, you often lose, because there are more questions behind defeat and that’s where you grow. I especially remember the event I liked least: the black box. It’s really not clear, even if it’s very interesting, the viewers will see it. I put food everywhere and it was a first for me to eat without seeing anything. †
Do you have a guilty pleasure and do you cook at home?
“Never in my life, it’s really very rare that I cook at home. I’m not home very often now, I actually rather prepare a sandwich than cook. In absolute terms, I’d say I prefer a comfort dish over a gastro dish, but one doesn’t exclude the other. Why couldn’t a gourmet dish be comforting? For me it is not incompatible. I love food, my medicine is food. I think I like everything, I like discovering things. Exactly, I think it’s super interesting to work on things you don’t like, like bitterness for example, to develop the palate. But I will say that if I have a little indulgence, it’s vanilla ice cream, I eat too much of it (laughs).
What do you think of Belgian cuisine?
“I don’t know her at all, it’s my first time coming to Belgium. I would like to discover this gastronomy, for example to eat at the Air du Temps. But it takes time to get to the restaurant, and I have very little of that. Luckily I’m not frustrated about it. I enjoy barbecuing with friends as much as dining out. In fact, it’s about the moment you want to live in, you have to deal with it. †
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What do you think of this “big mouth” image we sometimes associate with you?
“If you coach everyone, there are sometimes 20 meters between the candidates and you have to talk loudly. People automatically associate that with some loud or mean person. Yet it’s not me at all, I’m hypersensitive. I think nature is well made, I am tall and strong to defend perhaps an inner fever. †
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
“Sipping piña coladas (laughs). Maybe in another branch like ecology or humanism. I don’t think I’ll be working in the kitchen anymore. At some point, cooking becomes a high-level sport and do I still have the shoulders and back strong enough to continue? I’m not sure, it’s very physical. †