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I was born in Bitche in the Moselle. My parents, tradespeople, drummed the work ethic into me and my grandmother inspired in me the joy of cuisine, associated with special occasions. When I was13 and a half, I became an apprentice in Forbach. The very strict environment that I discovered there was to my liking, and I learnt the rudiments of classic cuisine. On the bedside table lay my Bible… a red-coloured one... the Michelin guide. My ambition was to perfect my knowledge in a starred restaurant, at “Le Bourgogne” in Evian. In May1974 in Palavas-les-Flots as part of Paul Alexandre’s brigade, I took my apprenticeship one step further. I adore the South, the sun, the girls in swimsuits on the beach, and I enjoy its lifestyle even though, in the eyes of the rest of the team, I shall always be “the lad from the East!”. In 1976, at the age of 21, I returned to work with Paul ALEXANDRE as pastry chef. Then, at the end of the year, I went to work with BOUVAREL, in St Hilaire du Rosier, as pastry and pantry chef. I met a girl from Vercors, Monique. I bought up the restaurant of Pierre Alexandre, Paul’s twin brother, across from Nîmes airport. There, my local ingredients are enhanced, integrated into recipes without ever losing their natural qualities. Mine is a modern cuisine, built on technique and skill, a cuisine of the south, one with roots, and without any superfluous flourishes.
I put little glass tubes containing different kinds of olive oil on every table. I use it in emulsions and, to give one example, for grilling red mullet filets, adding a little Camargue salt and then a spoonful of olive oil at the last second. I do all of my cooking with olive oil because its flavor stays in the memory…
Since I come from the Vosges region, for a long time olive oil was a “holiday oil” for me, an oil of sunshine and exuberance. For more than 25 years I’ve been working with the Paradis oil mill in Martignargues, whose head miller makes an extraordinary oil. He exemplifies the spirit of the Cévennes region – people of the soil, a bit rough but still very elegant.