I started my career in 1986 in Lille at Le Flambard with Robert Bardot. Then I went on to Les Crayères with Gérard Boyer in Reims, and then became chef de cuisine with Joël Robuchon, where I stayed for seven years, until 1996.
In 1997, I became chef of Le Pré Catelan and in 2000 I was awarded the MOF (Best Worker of France) accolade.
I am from the Vosges, a region known for its work ethic and I like rigour and precision. My cuisine is simple, flavourful and sophisticated. I try to discover harmonies of flavours and this is my philosophy: even if perfection is not of this world, that’s no excuse not to try to attain it
What was your most moving culinary experience?
A year ago, in Japan, I went, with a friend, to a sushi restaurant which had been strongly recommended: Sukiyabashi Jiro.
To my enormous surprise, the taxi put us down in front of an entrance to the underground. We went down and found a minuscule restaurant, with a bar and ten bar stools. Behind the counter there were six people cutting up the fish, preparing the sushi, and painting them in sauce with a fine brush with precise and delicate gestures in total serenity. When you tasted it, it was glorious: rice at room temperature, raw fish, cooked fish, smoked fish, an explosion of taste which made my eyes water. The telephone rang and it was the Michelin guide telling the Jiro that they had won a third star.
The most amusing kitchen incident you ever witnessed?
During a summer meal, we were serving as an amuse-bouche, a small cucumber gelée on which we placed a tiny amount of tomato carpaccio. A youing Belgian trainee made a mistake: instead of tomato coulis, he added some raspberry coulis... The guest came over to tell me what a wonderful idea it was!
Your best piece of advice for amateur chefs?
Go for simplicity: no more than five ingredients. And make sure that you use the best quality produce. Follow the recipe scrupulously.