‘Art is what led me to gastronomy. At least, that’s part of the story. Although I come from a family of restaurateurs, my early interests lay in graphic art, design and dressmaking. Up to the day when my drawing master advised me that it would be sensible to take up an apprenticeship as a cook… That’s what got me in. It was my wife who helped me take the plunge and she gave me the key: a present of La Grande Cuisine minceur by Michel Guérard, the manifesto of Nouvelle Cuisine. The liberties that it took with tradition, its sheer creativity… My Eureka moment. It was blindingly obvious what I should do, and my training went by with lightning speed. I stood in for members of staff at my father’s and uncle’s restaurants, went to train on several occasions to London and Basel, and then that was it. These were the early signs of a cuisine that knew no boundaries, that was light, perpetually in motion, constantly seeking innovation and creativity, a cuisine that is pleasing to the eye and the palate. Gastronomy as art. My life has come full circle.’
Wood avens has a root with a flavor rather like clove, only subtler. It can be found growing wild just about everywhere in our region, mostly at the edges of forests or along roadsides. I have been using it for nearly 15 years in all types of sauce bases, and sometimes I make it a featured ingredient. I let it steep and use it like clove. For example, one of my dishes is red mullet filet in taro chips and liver matelote flavored with wood avens.