I have just returned from three intense days at Mesamerica in Mexico City where I met some celebrated chefs for the first time and others I have known for years. In my conversations with younger talent, I always point out that they should not lose their own identities in their rise to celebrity. It is astonishing that my conversations with chefs like Guy Savoy, Pierre Gagnaire, Joel Robuchon, Alain Ducasse, and Alice Waters (who are real life icons) in the past few weeks were sans entourages and clusters of publicists and assistants, while others have handlers and spokespersons as if they need to be protected from the world at large. Needless to say, I am not inclined to share those exchanges with other food enthusiasts because those are never real conversations but self promotional communications.
Amongst the younger chefs that are setting examples by not changing their intrinsic selves during their time in the spotlight are Rene Redzepi, Albert Adria, and Elena Arzak, who are some of my favorite people because they are genuine, honest, and have never changed despite their meteoric rise to fame. My recent conversation with Guy Savoy made me realize that the longevity of his career is due to his ability to connect with people on a personal level, not just his talent as a chef. As I wrote about a few weeks ago, it was a very candid conversation and we spoke as two people interested and invested in the world of food. I am not a journalist and I pursue a passion, not a profession, and these are the conversations that I share on this forum. In all fairness, because of the considerate interest in my conversation with him I am including some additional questions that I posed and his answers, which will be interesting to his fans and admirers.
You visit the markets yourself which one do you prefer in Paris?
I like all markets. Marché Poncelet is the more convenient, for it’s only 200m away from home. When I have time, I enjoy Marché d’Aligre, which is so cosmopolitan. I also like Les Enfants Rouges, for the atmosphere rather than the products.
Which is your favorite season in terms of produce in Paris?
I love them all, but Autumn is definitely the richest.
The first dish that you got to prepare at Maison Troigros?
It was a ‘beurre cancalais’, a mix of butter, herbs and lemon, to go with grilled lobster.
When and where did you buy your first piece of art, and what was it?
The first piece I bought was a lithography of Bram Van Velde. I bought it in a gallery located in Paris (boulevard Saint-Germain) that does not exist anymore. It was in 1980.
Your restaurants offer a chance for diners to enjoy your food at different price points like in Paris the Atelier Maitre Albert, the Bouquinistes along with your formal and more expensive Guy Savoy restaurants. Why have you chosen to do that?
I believe a modern chef has a role to play in all forms of cooking, even merely alimentary.
I am looking forward to visiting him at the Guy Savoy restaurant once it moves into a ‘hotel particular’ the Hotel de la Monnaie on the left bank of the Seine in the 6th arrondissement, that is if I don’t see him before that in Paris this fall or in Las Vegas.