Gilles Dupont: I was born in Annecy in 1956, 40 km from Geneva. My first culinary experience was a work placement to earn a little pocket money. I studied at the hotel management school in Bonneville before completing my studies at Westminster Catering College. Then I had the opportunity to work with Marc Veyrat at L’Eridan, at the London Hilton and at the Queen Elisabeth in Montreal. The first time I worked as a chef was at Le Cygne restaurant at the Geneva Hilton. The restaurant had won two stars by the time I left in 1990. Then I became executive chef at the Hôtel du Rhône for its two restaurants and I won two new stars for one of them, the Neptune. In 1996 I became my own boss at L’Auberge du Lion d’Or in Coligny. This restaurant had left its mark on me: I had been an apprentice chef there in 1974! That’s where I currently practise as a chef and draw on all these experiences as well as a number of internships with great chefs such as Jacques Le Divellec in his restaurant of the same name, Joël Robuchon at Le Jamin and at L’Oasis in Brussels.
It’s a winter vegetable, and we only have it on the menu during that season. In our region cardoons are a must for Christmas dinner, a strong local tradition. Our supplier buys them directly from the farmers. It’s a complicated vegetable, which makes it interesting. It isn’t easy to handle: it pricks the skin and blackens the fingers. The texture is slightly stringy, so it has to be peeled well, like chard. The cardoon is a fine, splendid vegetable, with a flavor rather like artichoke.
First we blanch it and drain it well. Then we prepare it either as a gratin with black truffles or as a creamy purée with a dollop of olive oil.