A different approach to present French cuisine

Blogs - Saigon/HCMC: May 23, 2014

Growing up in Paimpol in Brittany I could have followed a career in sport and become possibly a Judo Champion, but a broken leg and my brother being a cook changed my fate.

Having been used to competition I never chose the easy path. In 2004 without any prior experience I was accepted by Michel Trama to join his kitchen team, practically the day before he obtained his third star in the Guide Michelin.

The task was tough and the pressure intense. I gave myself an ultimatum of two months not knowing then that this was forgotten the moment I was gripped by the gastronomic fever.

After 5 years of training in every culinary way, I had a solid foundation ready to become an “alchemist”. Feeling entrepreneurial I was tempted to move to New York, but the economic crises blocked me and so I was looking towards Asia.

And then everything moved very fast. I was aware of my lack of experience, but I was confident and my enthusiasm was guiding me well. So in December 2009, at the age of only 23 I became Executive Chef of “The French Window”, a Restaurant in Hong Kong. As the Cuisine was meant to be contemporary French I created classic dishes with a different approach to present them, while keeping their authentic taste.

Machael - CamargueIn 2011 with several opportunities to choose from I made a step forward and created my Consulting firm with the purpose of offering my expertise in the Asian Restaurant market something I enjoy doing until now.

I always considered the Gastronomy to be a good tool to share your concerns and being a priori a non-conformist I thrive to find answers to all my questions: The doubts form the pillars on which I am leaning to move forward.Even when looking for the best products, one by one, I follow Nature’s model, the particularities of each season, the harvest of each producer etc.

I always create a very personal menu with some 20 dishes, the result of several years of research, of hundreds of experiments and tests until a perfect technique is achieved.

The Asian knowhow has long seduced me and is until today tempting me to apply local cooking styles to a typically French Cuisine…. During my travels through Asia, I explored the markets of the different countries I visited. In some Restaurants I discovered techniques of preparation and finishing which I am applying somehow in small measures. I smoke my poultry with tea, I cook the pigeons like the lacquered ducks, I make my Cromesqui like Dim Sum even if the filling is made of foie gras, Trumpet mushrooms quail breast and truffle jelly.

It would be stupid while being in Asia to only use the French cooking style, moreover when you can apply here a wide range of maneuvers with endless so far hardly exploited variations.

My curiosity and wish to escape the routine and to search for innovations guided me in the last few years quite often into Art Galleries. There I met some artists and also amateurs but most important I met the remarkable photographer Nicolas Lemal.

I very much enjoyed working with him and gained a new approach to culinary art. ‘Indulence’ was created, a series of 20 photos using the feminine curves as a base to arrange chips of transparent and brittle vegetables and fruits like shards of glass, following the theme of dishes I had created in some of the places I had previously worked.