You're a couple of weeks into the new job, what changes have you made since joining?
I'm still learning about guest expectations at the Mirror Room and I'm not done with that yet, but one thing I have done is added a Sunday brunch (12-3pm) in the Mirror Room restaurant to complement the Slow Food & Living Market which takes place in the hotel's inner courtyard every Sunday. The market sells lots of organic locally-sourced produce, so I thought it would be great to serve some of that in the restaurant too. I want breakfast to be as organic as possible, so I'm currently tasting some new organic produce.
I've been really impressed by the quality of the produce here in the UK. I went to Borough, Marylebone and Portobello Markets as well as Billingsgate Fish Market and Old Covent Garden and they are really fantastic. I think it's important that before I work on the menu and create a new identity for the restaurant that I know all the products out there that I can play with.
How would you describe your style of cooking?
It's very simple and natural. I never want the plate to be really complicated. I'm not keen on molecular stuff, I prefer something more natural and straightforward. Good food shouldn't need an explanation. There should be three main flavours there and no fuss.
What is it like working in your kitchen?
I like people to work hard, but I also want them to have a good time. I can't imagine spending one day without laughing and we'll always speak about things unrelated to work, such as music we like or movies we've seen. You spend so many hours in the kitchen every day that you need those moments when you can feel part of a team and can share things about your life.
You've worked with a number of top chefs, notably Alain Ducasse and Jean-Francois Piege, but who has been your biggest influence?
I can't say one person as I think I've learned something different from each of them. When I was younger I was really impressed by Michelin stars, but it became less important as I got older and I have just been lucky to have been able to pick things up from everyone I have worked with.
What prompted your move to London?
Twelve years ago I worked for a couple of months at The Ritz and I really enjoyed being in the city. Since then I've always kept an eye on what was going on, so when the opportunity came up to move here I jumped at it. I love the city, it has so much energy and it is really impressive how many interesting little restaurants there are. In Paris we are a bit narrow-minded. We think French food is the best and there is nothing else. Here, in London you can have food from so many different cultures.
What brought me specifically to Rosewood was Matthias (Roeke) and Michael (Bonsor). I saw a huge company growing in dominance, but it's really focused on its people and it highlights the best in everyone. When I met Matthias and Michael I just couldn't help but want to work with them.
What has been your greatest achievement?
Building a relationship with my team and guests. It's a real pleasure to see guests coming back month after month as they have enjoyed your cooking. That's one of the greatest things and it means that you did a good job. Of course you can be proud of the Legion d'honneur, but that's just one shot. Being the best every day is my proudest thing.