‘Roots in France and Spain and my grandmother were the essential ingredients. I was lucky enough to grow up in a family with her in it. She was an exceptional cook. For her preparing a meal was always a pleasure, never a chore. A pleasure made for sharing. When I was very young, I was introduced to all the best ingredients from the land and the sea, as my father was a farmer and wine grower and many of my uncles were fishermen. So I quickly latched on to what being a chef was all about and what the ingredients to success in this profession were.
Whatever the restaurant, the ingredients are the stars while the artisans are the supporting cast. We, the chefs, simply negotiate between them. There is no greater or lesser cuisine, just good or bad ways of doing things.
Quebec has made me feel wanted for some eleven years now. It has let me develop my signature cuisine, based on fine local ingredients. I try to be creative and modern, yet faithful to the traditions of French gastronomy. I prefer the blue of Québec to the blue of the Mediterranean.’
What was your most moving culinary experience?
I remember being bowled over, when I was eight, by the culinary expertise of my grandmother who would conjure up magical dishes for my little sister and me. She would take simple ingredients, like milk, sugar, flour and butter, and out of these she could create one thousand and one dishes in a matter of moments. That day she was making a rice pudding. It has remained etched in my memory of taste.
The most amusing kitchen incident you ever witnessed?
When we were celebrating my 21st birthday, my mother, who is a very good cook, had wanted to impress all my chef friends who had come to the family home for the occasion. We will never forget the main dish: loin of pork with mushrooms and… custard. In the stress of the preparations, my dear mother had mistaken custard for sour cream.
Your best piece of advice for amateur chefs?
Cooking for other people is first and foremost an act of love. You don't need to impress, just to share, and what you share can be very simple. Good ingredients, nicely cooked, well seasoned – that's all you need for a successful dish!