Chef interviews

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Thank you

Christophe Santaigne

Interviewed January 2012

Christophe is head chef of the Alain Ducasse flagship restaurant Meurice in Paris, a 3 star Michelin restaurant.

Q – How long have you been cooking professionally?

I started hotel school in 1994, so I have cooked for 18 years and I have been a head chef since 2003.

Q – Where did you train to cook?

I started in my local area in Normandy, and then I came to do my military service at the Elysee Palace alongside Joel Normand, MOF. I then continued to work for Alain Ducasse with Jean François Piège for 3 years. I was then Chef at the Alain Ducasse restaurant "Aux Lyonnais" and then I went to the Crillon with Jean François for 5 years. These formative years were rich and intense.

Q – How would you describe your style of cooking?

We try to make, with my team, a true and fair cuisine to honor the products that French artisans have taken so much trouble to cultivate, gather and fish.

Q – Is there a secret for a successful restaurant?

No, of course not, but if there were one, I wonder if it is the sincerity and sharing.

Q – Do you have a “signature dish” or favourite dish you enjoy cooking?

I cook a duet with Alain Ducasse, so it's hard for me to answer this question a very "personal" way. I rather give my vision for his traditional dishes; we make a fruit and vegetable dish for example which is very "Ducasse" in mind, but very "Saintagne" in taste and selection of products. I like it, because it is a rich example of our collaboration.

Q – Do you have a favourite ingredient?

No, I like the changing seasons and dishes, the return of the truffles, the first asparagus, a beautiful chicken, all that inspires me. I have a rule to never cook products that I do not eat.

Which restaurant do you most enjoy eating at on your night off?

The restaurant “L’Assiette, held by my friend David Radgherber in Paris 14th. The place has a simple, fair and sincere, friendly atmosphere ... all that makes me happy!

What is your most interesting or fun experience from your time in restaurants?

I keep a memory of a great lunch at Pierre Gagnaire. He knows how to combine tradition and innovation, surprise and shift perfectly. An artist!

What would be your “last request” dish?

A roasted chicken, chips, a Camembert cheese and a bottle of cider. But it will not be my last meal, this will be my first when I get to heaven and what my grandmother gave me with her apron around the waist.

Is there another chef that you most admire?

There are so many! I would say: - Pascal Barbot for his freedom, Joel Robuchon for his rigor, Michel Guérard for his genius, Alain Ducasse for his excesses, Jean-François Piège for everything he taught me ....

Any advice you would give to someone wanting to become a chef?

Work, be curious, taste, taste, taste!

Any final thoughts you’d like to add?     

Our goal is to continue to grow the community of the restaurant, have a unique relationship with everyone. Meet new suppliers, retain new customers, try new combinations of taste… Still many good times to live and to share!

Current Restaurant

Plaza Athenee