Gers: for star chef William Candelon: “cooking is a family affair”

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The reputation of the restaurant Le Puits Saint-Jacques, the only restaurant (twice) with a star in the Gers in the Michelin Guide, in Pujaudran precedes it. Chef William Candelon, who took over the reins of the establishment in 2020, puts the small dishes into the big ones, passionately continuing a particular family tradition. Story of a culinary epic.

It is 9:30 am this morning of Friday 20 May in Pujaudran. The streets are quiet, empty of people. But on 57 Avenue Victor Capoul, a bustle betrays this tranquility. The restaurant Le Puits Saint-Jacques is already preparing its lunch service at this address. A few hours before the opening, the tables have to be set, the arrival of the customers prepared and the first cooking can start. In the kitchen there are about fifteen of them seasoning, chopping, cooking and kneading to emphasize the gourmet flavors of old recipes updated by star chef William Candelon.

A clear path

Humility, passion and tradition, three words to describe the master of the place. Because cooking is her whole life. A family saga of which he is the main character, and which begins during his childhood. Coming from a family of restaurateurs, he made a name for himself with a hotel-restaurant-bar on the other side of the border with Gersoise, in the Tarn-et-Garonne, but also on the Toulouse side with a restaurant, “Chez Tatie Danielle “, held by his mother, Daniele Bach.

“I never asked myself what I wanted to do, I was already in the kitchens helping on the weekends, bringing the bread to the tables, peeling the carrots” – William Candelon

Scents, cooking apples, preparing pies: so many memories remembered William Candelon who in college had only one thing in mind: cooking.

The chef designs, experiments and offers new traditional recipes.

A passage through the Castelsarrasin hotel school and later a CAP patisserie and caterer and everything is connected. Whoever heads a two-star establishment will be the first next to the greats of the industry: Claude Taffarello, Michel Guérard or Alain Ducasse, from whom he will learn.

In 2002, the adventure of Puits Saint-Jacques

19 years ago, while in Saint-Barth, William Candelon received a call from his uncle, the leader of the Puits Saint Jacques, Bernard Bach. “He told me his second was leaving and he needed someone for a six-month replacement,” explains the chef. Return to Pujaudran on Tuesday, start of the adventure on Thursday. However, the beginning turns out to be complicated: between the generational shock with his uncle and a difficult integration, he has to prove himself.

“First day, lifting 140 kilos of sea bream, 40 blankets, that calmed me” – William Candelon

But with his education, William Candelon soon joined the restaurant’s pastry shop. “With what I liked, I made assemblies and started developing the pastries of the Puits Saint-Jacques,” he indicates. Under the convinced eyes of his uncle, he continued his experiments before returning to the kitchen with Bernard Bach as the second. From pastries to meat to fish, William Candelon now masters all positions.

One star later, a new chef in the kitchen

In 2008, the establishment received its second star in the Michelin Guide. “A week later, he calls me chef,” says William Candelon. For a few years he ran the kitchen alone, with rigor and passion. But the burden is heavy and the responsibility weighs on the shoulders of the new chef who must now do everything he can to keep these two stars. “In 2015, I reached intellectual and physical saturation,” he says.

In the kitchens of the establishment, everyone can go to their station to develop cooked dishes with passion.

In the kitchens of the establishment, everyone can go to their station to develop cooked dishes with passion.

But with the support of his uncle, the development of new menus, culinary experiments, a renewed cuisine between tradition and modernity infused with a touch of lightness and citrus fruits, everything goes for the best. The restaurant offers a taste journey that is appreciated by customers who like to give the establishment a near-perfect score on the Google review platform.

Gourmet restaurant with two stars, but here I do not hesitate to put five – Bruno

In 2020, Bernard Bach offered his cousin to take over the restaurant. A proposal and a legacy that testify to the relationship and unshakable trust between the two renowned chefs. “We were very fusional,” says William Candelon.

From the transfer of a passion to that of a restaurant, there is ultimately only one step, taken after twenty years and many adventures by William Candelon.

Info and reservations on the restaurant’s website or by phone on 0562074111.

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