My childhood was probably a cliché of French rural life. It established the foundation and the structure of my approach as much to cuisine as to people. At the age of seven, my father took me to the garden, made me take a handful of earth, look at it, smell it, taste it! And of course, I was very much involved in all the toiling in the garden, whilst my friends were playing football. Then the veg would be picked, topped, tailed, and cooked by my mother and often bottled for the winter. From the age of seven, I was also a hunter-gatherer across the woods of Franche-Comte where there are fields growing numerous types of wonderful produce - mushrooms, chanterelles, wild asparagus, wild berries and flowers. All that we picked would be handed to my Mum to create a simple creative act of cooking and the rest sold on the side of the street. This gave me a good understanding of the cycles - and also made me a rich young man by the age of 10! If we had chicken or rabbit, I would do everything to prepare it for the cooking pot - So food was very much at the heart of our house. But so was the gift of food - food was an act of love which was to be shared with the people you love, your family. All of those values have permeated my own approach to cooking and preparing food. As a boy in Besançon, I saw the pleasure people had in eating in a restaurant and thought "I want to give that pleasure to people myself.” It's about having the ability to engage yourself in what you're doing. I cannot say that I'm more of a genius than anybody else, but I can say, I worked a little bit harder than most people. You can't be the best at everything. I knew enough to surround myself with excellent people, a great team.
I love to cook chicken. It’s a very nice meat that lends itself to creativity and is full of surprises.
When they think about English chicken, most people think of “hormones and industrial breeding.” But some farmers are producing excellent free-range poultry, and Rhug chickens are among the best. They’re organic, raised in the open and feeding whenever they want. Their meat is tender, with an intense flavor. Mine come from two sources: Laverstoke Park Farm and Rhug Estate. We have all the traceability forms, which guarantees that we’re serving our customers the best product available.
In the summer we offer roast chicken au jus with a smoked potato purée, or grilled chicken breast with tomato fondue, garden beans and Kalamata olives. We always serve chicken with inseason ingredients, like asparagus or morels in the spring, or lemon, smoked paprika and tomatoes in the summer.