My mother was a housewife and cooked with care and love every day. I'm still very aware of the smells and aromas of cooking as a result. There were a few little extras on festive occasions and holidays but it was the simplest things that were the best. The market was where she did most of her shopping. My father, being an Italian, liked to make pasta but he was much less organised than she was. My parents lived in a house in the country, with a garden and a vegetable plot. My grandparents' house was by a river and they raised chickens, ducks and rabbits. We used to go and get fresh milk from a nearby farm every day when I was staying with them. I knew what I wanted to do at the age of 14 and I’ve stuck with it ever since. I inherited the same love of family cooking and I’ve always wanted to include dishes from my childhood on the menus in my restaurants – the Grandgousier and then the two Apicius – such as veal head in a vinegar sauce or pig’s trotter galette or the kind of duck pie you used to get in grand middle-class houses. My motto in the kitchen: simplicity, flavour and honesty. My aim? Share the love my parents and grandparents handed down to me. Even in a luxury restaurant like my latest Apicius, simplicity and honesty are absolutely essential.
Langoustine is a dish by itself – it’s already a gastronomic creation. It should never be altered too much. Take a large langoustine, cut it in two, mix a little salted butter with a pinch of tarragon, then blend a little of the coral and spread it on the animal’s head. Put it under the grill with a drop of olive oil and after three minutes it’s cooked and ready to eat. The meat comes out pearly, with all of its qualities preserved.
Most of the langoustines that we cook come from Brittany or Scotland. Our buyer brings us only the best, freshest, nicest-looking ones. Any time he can find extra-large langoustines, he knows that we’ll take them. I have adored these crustaceans ever since I first discovered them when I was a child – it was like biting into the sea.