I was raised in a family of farmers. My two uncles were a baker and a butcher. I grew up on the coast of Brittany with my grandmother who was a fantastic cook. We had a garden and raised rabbits, chooks, and geese. I learned a lot from her. Every Friday we made crêpes and galettes for the family. I loved cooking, baking, and butchering (but not so much cleaning). At the age of 15, I decided that cooking was my calling because it came naturally to me. I thought it would be a great craft, as well as an excuse to travel the world. I made the decision to skip culinary school and do an apprenticeship at Le Bretagne with my mentor, Georges Paineau. The artistic aspect and hands-on opportunities were appealing to me.
As a youngster, my family traveled every summer. I remember running wild with my sisters in the souks of Morocco and picnicking on St. Brelade beach on Jersey Island. At age 19, I moved to French Guyana to work at a Breton restaurant in Kourou at the basin of the Amazon River. For three weeks, I lived in a local village in the heart of the jungle. Talk about going back to the grassroots! Fishing on the river bank brought the true meaning of “out of the water and into the pot.” Or out of the jungle and onto the spit roast!
Pierre Chambrin, former chef of The White House, brought me to The United States, which was a dream come true. This is my home now and the starting point for all my travels. On Prince Edward Island, I gathered mussels that reminded me of my childhood. In India, I cooked goat on a sabre in a tandoori oven. In Australia, I fell in love with the Adelaide Central Market’s artisanal cheeses and outback honey....read
As a child, my family’s obsession with tasty food and our habit of gathering in the kitchen inspired me to cook. Years before I was tall enough to see above the counter tops, I would spend hours absorbing the sounds, aromas, and orchestrated movements surrounding me. Those experiences sparked the curiosity and excitement I still feel. every time I step into a kitchen. I often close my eyes and revisit those very first impressions of cooking—the rhythmic tapping of efficient knife work, the steel-on-steel swoosh of hand-whipped cream, or the clinking of dishes as the table is prepared in anticipation.
I encourage people to see cooking as a multi-sensory activity. Sautéed onions passing through the goldenbrown stage to the threshold of caramelization can be judged purely by smell. With a little awareness, you can establish the stage of reduction in a saucepan behind you by using your ears. To have a successful relationship with the foods you are cooking, it helps to be a great listener.
I don’t think this is a mysterious craft. We are all born with the intuition that makes a great cook. All it takes is some confidence. My mom was the best cook I ever met until she took culinary classes. Then she started questioning herself too much in the kitchen... read