TIME IS THE MAIN INGREDIENT
Only a few equipment in my kitchen but lots of preparations, most of which required days or even weeks of maturation, ready to accompany meat or fish. Throughout the year, I concoct unique, delicate, round glazing, with varying degrees of acidity which coat the meat for a unique cooking. Not only glazing, but also, flavoured oils and salts and the famous scorched earth which is incorporated in certain dishes.
It’s almost my signature dish, a recipe that gives a unique flavour to my cuisine: a blend of herbs, grains, vegetables, anything that comes to mind which expresses my feelings, a blend that experiences the heat of the flame, time passing and sublime flavours. In the mouth, it is melting, crispy, crunchy, surprising and above all this combination gives a particular light to each dish, an aromatic grilled flavour that stands as the essence of my cuisine.
Finally, you are still only at the beginning of the story since I love people immensely. Friends come first, from Béarn to Basque Country, my adopted homeland, naturally Yves Camdeborde and Sébastien Gravé, David Toutain, Bruno Doucet, Sébastien de la Borde, Christian Etchebest.
My kitchen staff plays an important role in my life, Yuji, the sous chef, Mario (and his schoolboy pranks), Amandine and Laurent who work in the dining room follow the fast pace and the customers with whom I share conversations… on a long term basis.
That complicity nourishes me and shapes me but it would be nothing without my family that defines me. Their energy allows me to create a cuisine of “controlled chance”, a cuisine that rejects rationalisation and places the staff and the clients on the same level.
I like you to have a good time in my restaurant, a simple and happy moment where you can eat, discuss, exchange and share.
MY CUISINE: A QUICK GESTURE FOR LONG PREPARATIONS
I consider cooking as a physical exercise; my whole body, energy, mind and emotions, every part of my body is focus while cooking. I get involved in the same way with the ingredients and preparations. I enter in a delicate struggle because it is important to know how to accompany a motion but also to create dynamics.
At the serving-hatch, I seize every element, my body is engaged in a continuous movement, as two dishes are never exactly alike and from the same ingredients, I can develop various dishes that emphasize different flavours. This combination also creates feelings of contrasted, insanely soft, sweet and crunchy textures that focus on raw and cooked flavours along with the combinations that I draw up.
It is time for the last gesture, dish presentation: meat or fish, preparations, scorched earth. I combine all these elements in a lively manner, almost in a violent movement to get a generous and spontaneous result.
Intuitive, I tell stories with my cuisine. I am constantly recreating dishes, festive cuisine, that reject habits, tics and routines which is essential to exploring what my imagination suggests. Without limits, I have the appetite for risk, I combine with the Breton forest wild animal environment of my childhood, the rich flavours of the Basque Country and the purity of Asian medicinal cuisine, so as to find and impose my own definition of nature.
Tuesday 21 June 2016, I hosted the Syrian chef Mohamad Elkhaldy in my restaurant and we prepared lunch and dinner menus together.
For a while, I have been involved personally and professionally in integrating people who are in need and I didn’t hesitate a second when it came on to supporting the Refugee Food Festival project. I finally found an opportunity to have a positive experience in this tragic situation. My bistro cuisine fits perfectly with the preparation of a four-hands meal. It is about spontaneous gestures to create a sophisticated cuisine while remaining convivial. Mohamad Elkhaldy is from Damas and he is passionate about cooking. He opened and managed restaurants, taught, presented television programs for the general public. This is why our culinary exchanges were very intense.
Despite the language barriers, when we first met we agreed on a two chef menu which mixes French and Syrian cuisines. A unique menu which combines the two culinary traditions.
This event was created by Food Sweet Food, co-organised with HCR, the UN Refugee Agency and Les Cuistots Migrateurs.
I am Breton by birth and I carried with me the values of boldness and a certain taste for adventure even if my cooking training embodies everything that I would later fight against. Without looking behind, I moved to Paris, met Yves Camdeborde in 1992 and started all over. I fell in love with Basque Country where I discovered well-handled products, learned, dared, composed and then ten years later, I broke my leg. This accident was the only thing that could slow me down, forcing me to relax and… to think. Naturally, this period of transition shaped my future. I did not want to open up a bistro, I did not want to imitate Yves Camdeborde. I did not want to compete for stars, I just wanted to live, to create a place to live in and to offer an excellent cuisine in a bistro, a cuisine worthy of a starred restaurant using the same products and the same suppliers but with different ideas. References ? Camdeborde to whom I am bounded by an unconditional friendship. Another reference is Olympe, a tremendous cook, who during her time, combined excellence with simplicity.
I bought L’Ami Jean in 2004, the oldest Basque establishment located at rue Malar in the 7th district of Paris. Even though the restaurant is under new management, former customers remained loyal. I invested in this kitchen and with the support of my friends, I gave birth to the bistronomy. I created a new culinary programme that adapts the idea of a free, independent, creative and high quality cuisine to broaden access to excellency.
The restaurant is consistent with the irreverent spirit which is behind the opening of the bistro, a real cooking trend that adapts the idea of free, independent, creative and high quality cuisine to broaden access to excellence. This restaurant follows the tradition of the oldest Basque establishment in Paris that I bought in 2004. Nothing to do with good taste, nor traditions, the old tavern keeps its rough charm and is decorated with our friends’ drawings who express themselves freely: sometimes anarchic and rebellious, and to whom I pay tribute: Siné, Charb…
Chandelier, long tables, Basque tablecloths, bricks and wood, red colour everywhere, mirrors, a collection of odd objects to create a warm atmosphere, intermingling conversations and a lively moment in which people can sometimes hear screams from the kitchen.
USE ALL AVAILABLE MEANS
For me, respect is fundamental. No waste, no loss, every product has a second life derived from my imagination and from my desire to give.
What happened on that particular spring day when I was packing my bags to go cook on the other side of the Mediterranean Sea? That day, I made my beef chuck broth which reduced to a very flavourful concentration and once converted to jelly it became a sweet that I rolled in fresh herbs.
I like to spend time in my kitchen, to breathe in this atmosphere, to think about all those people who will come to eat. In those moments, new ideas pop up in my mind and that turn into delicious little things.
Over the years, I did not only set up a network made up of suppliers: men and women who till their soils, raise animals, go fishing, hunt and love to eat good food. But also a network of slaughterhouses which are now a matter of widespread debate that, in a normal world, it should not be such a controversial topic. An animal must be respected, whether it is a cow, a lamb or a hare. In addition, fish should not be ill-treated, fishing should be limited and well-managed in sustainable fisheries.
As it relates to vegetables, it should be grown without the use of pesticides or other dangerous product. Harvesting should be done while maintaining the delicacy and fragility of the plant. The taste should be the main concern, therefore, the product should be well handled and harvested only when fully ripe. Either directly or with gourmand suppliers, we share our 3 stars, bistronomy and even more.
My cuisine is based on exceptional products developed by demanding artisans who respect nature. I examine carcasses and flesh. I am very concerned about animal welfare and rebel at the slightest hint of abuse. Additionally, I ensure the freshness and taste of every stem, leaf, vegetable, and fruit. With my obsession for quality and respect of the craft (luxury), I became a real activist.
Only a few equipment in my kitchen but lots of preparations, most of which required days or even weeks of maturation, ready to accompany meat or fish. Time is of great importance in my cuisine, time to mature products and control their evolution.
Let’s take the example of mackerel which goes well with meat, in this case, with veal meat. I place the mackerel in the oven at 63°C and let it develop without cooking and when I think it is ready, I caramelize its skin with a torch until it is “raw cooked”. That means a fondant meat delicately crunchy on your teeth with an almost raw core. I have spent a long time studying and observing this complex technique and I end up with a spontaneous and violent gesture for a result full of tenderness.
Throughout the year, I create unique, delicate, round glazing, with varying degrees of acidity which coat the meat for a unique cooking. Every meat, every skin, every cooking is embellished with these techniques I developed over the years.
I don’t like sweets but… I love the rice pudding my mum used to make, I love even more the memory I kept of it, as a creamy and flavoured pudding. Then I recreated this childhood memory. I served it with salted butter caramel whipped cream and roasted caramelized pecan nuts. I wanted to obtain a blend of rounded smoked flavours, with crunchy nuts on your teeth and a soft result in the mouth. This is my definition of pleasure and even Barack Obama indulged in this sweet treat. I always serve the rice pudding at the end of the meal, sometimes with other desserts. I serve it in a big bowl and I like to see the diner guest sharing it.
If you wish, you can order this rice pudding for your diner, for your own indulgence or as a dessert to be shared with friends. Please contact us if you want us to prepare it for you.