‘Seasonal ingredients are at the heart of my cuisine and also of my career to date. My father was a country butcher with a vegetable allotment at home so I quickly learnt about ingredients. And cooking too. I owe my first experience, at the age of 15, to a chef who loved market dishes and who insisted on having a blackboard with dishes of the day. Some years later, in 1998, I was to discover another facet of these seasonal ingredients: how they can be used to enhance a dish, as the basis for a gourmet cuisine based on flavour, such as the one we offer at Le Pont de Brent. Head over heels in love. With a restaurant belonging to Gérard Rabaey on the slopes of Montreux, and with my future wife, who was sommelier there at the time. Two very good reasons to stay put and, in 2011, to decide to take over this lovely village restaurant.
The discussions I have every day with guests and suppliers help me create a cuisine based on innovation, one that never stands still, one that is helped along by the use of fine local seasonal produce.’
What was your most moving culinary experience?
Without a doubt a dinner at Can Fabes, Grand Chef Santi Santamaria’s restaurant, near Barcelona. His cuisine had extraordinary flavour, achieved by no grand flourishes or gadgets, and was totally down my street. No references to French gastronomy, but dishes clearly prepared according to their own codes of reference, ingredients and history. That discovery opened up for me a whole new way of seeing things.
The most amusing kitchen incident you ever witnessed?
When I started at Restaurant Le Pont de Brent, the chef asked a commis chef to ‘strain’ some stock. The young man, a bit stressed and hearing ‘drain’, grabbed the saucepan from the stove and tipped all the liquid in the sink. It was the chef’s veal jus.
Your best piece of advice for amateur chefs?
Enjoy the cooking, but also make sure you have time to enjoy your guests’ company.