I was born in the Vendée in Mouilleron en Pareds, my father was a postman and my mother a seamstress. So there was nothing in my past which predestined me for a life in the kitchen. Nonetheless, from the age of 7, any time anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up most of my friends answered ‘fireman’ but I said ‘cook’! After training at the hotel management school in La Roche-sur-Yon, I worked in restaurants for sales reps and spent a number of seasons on the Vendée coast. Chance had it that I found a job with a Relais & Châteaux in Le Château d’Isenbourg in Rouffach in 1983 and was to discover fine cuisine before taking the post of chef at Le Domaine des Hauts de Loire in 1988.I have grown to love the Loire area which has always been very welcoming and I appreciate being able to prepare the delicacies from its river and local produce in a contemporary yet simple fashion.
Most importantly, I adapt to the seasons and the crop, but I always have two or three dishes with mushrooms on the menu. Like fresh morels, which I braise (they’re toxic raw) stuffed with a nice piece of roasted foie gras and splashed with a good veal stock. I’m also very fond of black chanterelles, which I can pick near my home, simply sautéed and coated with their own juice reduced and bound with fresh butter. In the restaurant, I like to serve a little-known variety: Sparassis crispa, a large, delicately-flavored mushroom that looks rather like a cauliflower. I cook it with cream and a little green onion.
For the restaurant I have two mushroom suppliers in the Sologne region, who in turn are supplied regularly by gatherers. There’s a certain similarity between mushroom hunting and fishing, two of my favorite activities. You need a sixth sense to find what you’re looking for. I may have inherited the genes from my grandfather – every chance I get I like to gather and cook up a few morels, chanterelles, St. George’s or other varieties of mushroom, depending on the season.