Laurent Petit, at the helm of Le Clos des Sens since 1992, has let his thinking change with time, be it about his cuisine or his restaurant. Awarded three stars by the Michelin Guide, he shook loose of his classical training and preconceived notions to hone an identity centered on nature and people.
“I became a culinary citizen in 2015 – it was my midlife crisis.” After attaining the gastronomic holy grail of three stars in France’s 2019 Michelin Guide, Laurent Petit sees his life and work with even greater clarity. Perched on a sloping street in Annecy-le-Vieux, he went through his “cooking out” and now presents a menu entirely focused on fish caught in the lake that can be seen from his restaurant, Le Clos des Sens. The mantra of his personal Copernican revolution? “Open your eyes, see who your neighbor is, love your neighbor.” He reports that, “out of shyness or laziness,” he had never really deepened his relationships with those around him, his staff, his guests, his producers. “I wanted to create an unfiltered intellectual closeness.” Taking this path to better knowing others led to his discovering truth and simplicity in cooking. “I’ve freed myself from using things to tone down a dish to make it more accessible, but that detract from the actual eating experience,” he explains. “The dishes are well-thought-out, but, in the end, the guest wants just one thing: to eat well.” This first dish, guided by what he called “simplexity,” was a green cabbage millefeuilles with smoked fera. “It really tore me up, because it was nothing more than a slice of tart,” he recalls. “But when I got the feedback, I thought, ‘That’s it, I’m there.’” Since then, he has continued to leave his taste-and-territory mark on each dish, cuisine in which plants have a starring role, without any fanfare or favor distinguishing a button mushroom from a truffle.