As the great-granddaughter, granddaughter and daughter of mainly female chefs, my destiny had been laid down for me. And I took it as a challenge. On the one hand to wrong foot all those who said that I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth and, on the other, to show that a woman could be a fully-fledged chef.
My father had the good idea of teaching me about produce before I started using it: the butcher’s, the fishmonger’s... Then I trained with Pique Pierre in Grenoble, Outhier in La Napoule, La Marée in Paris, Gaertner in Ammerschwihr. The desire to be independent sent me off to New York.
I grew up in a house with a female culinary tradition where we were used to expressing our opinions without them being challenged. Then I worked in male brigades where there were prejudices against female points of view and I often felt that I was not being taken seriously. That helped build my personality.
I create a seasonal cuisine, with fine fresh produce which is honest, generous, has some character and a sense of humour. I want to get back to the way that older generations felt about food. But, at the same time, I put the stamp of my own personality on it and make it creative and daring.
What was your most moving culinary experience?
A dinner at the house of the mother of a colleague of mine, a cook herself, who had made a hotpot. The vegetables were from the family garden, the beef from the grandfather’s farm. The authenticity of the natural produce and her skill in using it had made it a truly genuine dish. At the other extreme, a dinner at the restaurant of Ferran Adrià, where sophistication reinvents gastronomy.
The most amusing kitchen incident you ever witnessed?
A pastry commis had picked up an egg which a swan had abandoned and put it in the drier so it could hatch. When the chick was born, like all newborns, it took the first person it saw for its mother! And this was the commis who then watched over it all day, slept with it... until it was eventually adopted by a family of swans.
Your best piece of advice for amateur chefs?
Cook good ingredients, simply. Cooking on Sundays has to come from the heart