Interviewed October 2009
Michel Guerard is one of the most famous cooks in France, having three Michelin stars for decades and being the prime influence of nouvelle cuisine. His cooking has a simplicity that I admire greatly.
Q – How long have you been cooking professionally?
I started to cook in 1953, so 56 years as of now.
Q – Where did you train to cook?
I started with pastry at Mantes la Jolie, in the Yvelines department, and then worked with a 2 Michelin starred chef in Totes (Seine-Maritime).
Q – How would you describe your style of cooking?
• I call my cuisine “naturalistic”, as I like to be as close to the product as possible. I assume the product has a little more talent than I do. This being said, I do enjoy to cook freely, without any restrictions.
Q – Is there a secret for a successful restaurant?
Give it an identity through the cooking, but also with the décor. I see a restaurant as a theatre, which cultivates taste and beauty, and the beauty of tastes.
Q – Do you have a “signature dish” or favourite dish you enjoy cooking?
Always the last one I create.
Q – Do you have a favourite ingredient?
From the most simple, modest up to the most crazy.
Which restaurant do you most enjoy eating at on your night off?
I enjoy a casual bistro, or a tapas bar in San Sebastian.
What is your most interesting or fun experience from your time in restaurants?
The well-known American actor Danny Kaye, once dressed up as a waiter in my Parisian restaurant “Pot au feu”, and started serving wine. He poured it not into the glass, but besides it, which the guests, who had not recognised him, found most shocking.
What would be your “last request” dish?
A piece of fresh bread, with good butter and a nice, thick layer of caviar, or small grilled mackerel (lisettes) on truffled cabbage and a hearty jus made with our white wine vinegar.
Is there another chef that you most admire?
Too many to name.
Any advice you would give to someone wanting to become a chef?
To gain a sound knowledge of the products and techniques, and to then learn from the great creators, masters. Although, one has to carefully develop one’s own identity at the same time.
Any final thoughts you’d like to add?
The idea of healthy cooking, and pairing it with taste and pleasure.
Les Pres Eugenie