I’m part of the fourth generation of a family of innkeepers, so I was born in a kitchen and grew up next to my grandfather's stove. After I left school at 18, I studied at one of the big business schools. Then I joined Alain Ducasse at the Louis XV in Monaco to work in the office. I stayed there for three years, until Alain persuaded me to get in front of a cooker. He taught me always to look for quality when choosing ingredients, but also to be constantly rigorous and to combine it with honest cooking with real, authentic flavour. I then joined my father at his Relais & Châteaux in Villeneuve-de-Marsan, which gave me the chance to express what I felt instinctively. Five years later, I opened my own restaurant in Paris. The two openings – one in Paris and one in London – are still the most intense moments of my life in spite of how difficult it was at the time. I cook with ingredients from the south-west of France where I was born, which appeal to how I've always lived and to my emotions.
There would be no great chefs without great products and great suppliers, and without close relations uniting all three. The Dupérier family in Souprosse is one of those great suppliers – every foie gras made by their hands is an exceptional product. The bond that has united me with the Dupériers from my earliest days is based on recognition of know-how, loyalty and strong personal contact. It’s an important part of my cuisine’s success.
I sometimes serve a goose foie gras from the Landes cooked as a confit in a spicy sangria with its own aspic and a dried fruit chutney, or a Landes goose foie gras from Robert Dupérier seasoned with cocoa nibs and then cooked in a terrine, with a Williams pear and long pepper chutney, fresh Périgord walnuts and a reduction of nut wine.