I was headhunted for the position at Coq d’Argent. Icould see there was a lot of potential to expand the business, like opening the terraces to food, designing a kitchen outside, offering more food at night and expanding the menu.
Now we get customers that come here every week. We change the menu quite often and they know they can always come and eat something different.
I’m a fanatic waste hater. One thing that gets my hair up is wastage. I use everything and I do a lot of work for Action Against Hunger. I come from a gypsy background where it was hard to get by and wastage was never allowed.
Here we use everything. Non-edible food goes to compost, and anything that is edible, like odd cuts of meat, will be used for the sauce or for staff food.
Calorie counting will never be applied in fine dining restaurants. In French cooking we’ve always cooked with a tablespoon of butter or a teaspoon of cream, and sometimes the teaspoon might be slightly bigger, or a different chef has a different palate.
If you start to calorie count you will lose the freedom of cooking. There will be no expression of the palate, everything will be just the same, and it will be boring.
Obesity is a new thing. People have just forgotten how to eat.
French food is never not in fashion. A lot of people told me French food was finished 10 years ago. But it’s not. At the moment, people are looking for simple, tasty and well presented food, and that’s French food.
French food is not about French ingredients, it’s about finding the best local ingredients and prepping them the right way.
I take a different approach to seasonality. I don’t mind using something out of season as long as it was prepped when it was in season. So I dry out ceps, make orange marmalade, strawberry jam, pear chutney, or crab apple jelly.
As long as the products are not fresh but preserved, then they are still seasonal products when used out of season.
I get involved with service quite a lot, we do a lot of training. But I’m better where I am. I wouldn’t have the patience to put up with some of the people out there.
Young people entering the industry need patience and dedication. Don’t expect everything too early. In France you work ten years before you become a chef de partie. Here, people come straight out of college and want to be Jamie Oliver. But it doesn’t work like that.