Bernard 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. I discovered the hawker centers in Singapore and noodle bars in Taipei. By sailing the oceans on the Regent Seven Seas Cruise Line, I have globetrotted our beautiful planet.
Farmers do marvels by growing bountiful organic fruit, vegetables, and herbs. The soul of any community, great or small, is its market. This is where people from all walks of life gather to procure their food for the day, to socialize, and to interact with the region’s farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and artisans. The market provides a snapshot of a people, their environment, and the wonderful products that stem from both of those entities. I am a very inquisitive chef, always searching for the unknown—new ingredients, techniques, spices, and wines.
Chefs are like scientists, artists, and magicians. A white canvas is replaced by a sleek white plate. On our palette, we use the natural color of ingredients and textures to awaken all of the senses. It is a journey through the magic of cooking. The role of a chef is to create a feast for the senses— telling the tale of a region and its people via taste, texture, scent, and sight. I am always striving to discover new styles of cuisine with original cultural roots.
More Information at www.chefbernard.com
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