Food is one part of the experience. And it has to be somewhere between 50 to 60 percent of the dining experience. But the rest counts as well: The mood, the atmosphere, the music, the feeling, the design, the harmony between what you have on the plate and what surrounds the plate.
It is impossible to remain indifferent to Japanese culture. It is a different civilisation where all you have learnt must be forgotten. It is a great intellectual challenge and a gorgeous sensual experience.
Classical cooking and molecular gastronomy should remain separate. You can mix two styles and get fusion; any more, and you just get confusion.
Failure is enriching. It’s also important to accept that you’ll make mistakes – it’s how you build your expertise. The trick is to learn a positive lesson from all of life’s negative moments.
At my home in the southwest of France, I grow oak, hazel, and lemon trees in my backyard.
In Paris we have bistros, then we have fine dining. In London, you have a very contemporary scene with mixed influences.
The real evolution is to learn something new every day – it’s very important for chefs to share what they have discovered.
Everywhere in the world there are tensions – economic, political, religious. So we need chocolate.
Gastronomy is my hobby. I’m simply the casting director. Once I’ve brought all the right people together, it is they who must work together to tell a story.
My wife Gwenaelle prepares an ‘energy shot’ for me for breakfast. It’s a mix of linseed, cereal, and raisins, with fresh fruit like kiwi. She also adds yogurt for added texture and some pollen and honey for an energy booster.
When I’m in Paris, my favorite market is the Marche Raspail on the Left Bank.
I would never be able to lead the insane lifestyle I do, traveling all over the world, if I wasn’t eating food that was simple and healthy.
I was brought up on a farm in Southwest France, eating farm-fresh produce three times a day. It was paradise on Earth, and it shaped my eating habits and my sense of taste.
I love any excuse to work with a mortar and pestle.
If you don’t treat an ingredient and its flavors with respect – if you drown it in oil, for instance – you’ll spoil it.
London is the most important city in the world for restaurants.
I have restaurants, bookshops… but it’s not an empire, more… a puzzle. If it were an empire, all my restaurants would be the same.
TV is a deformed vision, an excessive caricature. A chef has to stay an artisan, not become a star.
I don’t like being a celebrity.
My son, Arzhel, is two, and he eats vegetables twice a day. We have a vegetable garden on our farm in the Southwest, and he gets two baskets, one over each arm, and says, ‘Garden, Papa!’ and then he eats what he picks.
With cooking, there’s always the tangible and the intangible: that which is in the domain of sentiment, of the individual.
You take the best ingredients – the best cocoa beans – and you process them in the best traditional way, and you have the best chocolate.
In France, I am the fifth artisan to produce his own chocolate, and the others have been doing it for a long time.
I’m in love with the markets of the world. It’s a photograph of a city, a culture.
I love to pick tomatoes at the end of the day, when they’re still warm from the sun.
The Asian airlines have the best wine programs.
The world of wine is more creative than the world of cooking.
There are so many impassioned winemakers. I think there are more impassioned winemakers than chefs.
I travel the world, and I can see in Toronto the cooking is very personal. These people cook with their hearts.
Everything that pushes up out of the earth I love. Everything under the earth, root vegetables, I love to cook.
You need a good gardener and a good fisherman. The cook is not required.
Chefs don’t become chefs just to earn stars – that’s not the goal.
When I was younger, I behaved a bit strangely sometimes – lost my temper, did silly things – but little by little, I’ve gotten better. As a chef, I think you need to do a lot of work on yourself and your temperament.
I don’t do the same food in Tokyo that I do in Vegas and vice versa. If I did that, two weeks later I would have no customers.
When I arrived, I didn’t understand London customers perfectly, but we’ve developed the right style with the right price, and step by step, I’m in harmony with London.
In each restaurant, I develop a different culinary sensibility. In Paris, I’m more classic, because that’s what customers like. In Monaco, it’s classic Mediterranean haute cuisine. In London, it’s a contemporary French restaurant that I’ve developed with a U.K. influence and my French know-how.
It’s not easy to have success with restaurants in different cities, but I like the challenge.
The planet’s resources are rare; we must consume more ethically and equitably.
The Mediterranean is in my DNA. I’m fine inland for about a week, but then I yearn for a limitless view of the sea, for the colours and smells of the Italian and French Riviera.
I’m anti-globalisation. There is nothing more enriching than to go out into the world and meet people different to you. We must fight the spread of a singular way of thinking and preserve cultural differences.
It’s striking and unique in London how you know to create this alchemy between the concept, the food, the music, the staff. From the beginning to the end, with all these different elements, it tells a full story that you know very well how to develop and cultivate.
If I had the choice to travel to two places in Europe, it would be Paris and London.
My grandmother did all the cooking at Christmas. We ate fattened chicken. We would feed it even more so it would be big and fat.
The most classic French dessert around the holidays is the Christmas log, with butter cream. Two flavors. Chocolate and coconut. My first job in the kitchen when I was a boy was to make these Christmas logs.
When I started cooking the meal at home, after I had started cooking in restaurants, I usually would prepare bay scallops or lobster.
In France, Christmas is a family holiday. You stay home. New Year’s Eve is when you go out.
What they’ve found so far in the Amazon is 5 percent of what there is yet to discover to eat in the Amazon because it’s completely unknown. I’ve eaten things I’ve never eaten before over there.
I have a very nice garden and extraordinary markets, where there are products from the earth and the sea, in the French Basque country.
To make my meal, I go to the market and to the garden, and then I decide what I’m going to do. That’s a great pleasure.
I think the French and the Japanese are both obsessed by seasons, small producers, freshness.
I concentrate in my work on preserving and displaying the original flavor from each ingredient in a dish.
The restaurants express the spirit of the chef, the spirit of the city, the country.
I have an obsession for quality. I work for my guests, not to obtain Michelin stars.
Believe me, I did not come to London to cook farmed fish. All my fish are wild.
In London, there is no need for 25 high-end gastronomic restaurants. That would be too much.
I only get fat when I eat food cooked by other chefs. At home, my wife does all the cooking. She makes simple things like soups and salads. We both like steamed tofu.
The world forgets about people who are not useful.
If I’m a great artisan of the kitchen, it’s because I don’t buy my sauces.
The relentless pursuit of being different is very French.
Our milk chocolate is very chocolaty. In fact, we don’t call it milk chocolate – we call it milky chocolate.
I am a very eco-friendly chef but a guilty air traveller.
I live in Paris, yet Monaco, where I spend a lot of time, holds a very special place in my heart.
I have a passion for luggage – trunks and so on. I have a collection of them, but I can never resist buying another piece.
I don’t like being disappointed by somebody I trust. Fortunately, it rarely happens.
For me, going to markets is the best way to understand the soul of a place.
Given the number of restaurants I have, I could easily travel all the time – but I try not to.
If I am going somewhere exotic, I take an empty suitcase with me to bring back the objects I fall in love with.
For me, the most luxurious place is somewhere that allows you to feel emotions and pleasures.
I don’t think the rating system places too much pressure on chefs. I prefer to put the pressure on my chefs to perform to the top standards.
I am overfed, so when I am at home, I stop eating.
I’m surprised by the talent I find all over. There are always new chefs who propose many interesting new ideas, new ways of looking at ingredients.
I prefer to be able to identify what I’m eating. I have to know.
When you grow up close to poultry and fields and gardens and open-air markets, you can’t help but develop an instinct for quality food.
If my cuisine were to be defined by just one taste, it would be that of subtle, aromatic, extra-virgin olive oil.
I do most of the cooking in my head.
I didn’t want to become a chocolatier among others, buying ready-to-use couverture. I wanted to take the same approach I follow in my cuisine: putting the product first, revealing the authentic taste of the products.
The proportion of ingredients is important, but the final result is also a matter of how you put them together. Equilibrium is key.