Mysterious Neal Bouvier

The name of Neal Bouvier is known very little among ordinary people. But for the chosen and privileged ones that name sounds a lot since many representatives of the elite are fans of his works of sweet art.

He does not have his page on social networks or his photos on the Internet, he hardly talks to people and never talks to journalists. He is a very reserved person, self-absorbed, even strange. Few persons who had a chance to talk to Neal say that it is very difficult to communicate with him. And even the great fans of his works don’t know what he looks like. They say that after his divorce he does not want to take pictures of himself and doesn’t let unknown people see his face.

Sounds very mysterious, doesn’t it? But the truth is that this man can afford any caprice because he makes true works of art of his desserts. Everyone who has tasted their delights says it is the best they have eaten in their life. Although it is not possible to speak with many of its clients – the elite usually keeps secret the details of their big parties, for which they hire Neal, who makes cakes, which look more like the sculptures of a museum, for these events.

There are even rumors that the wedding cake of the Prince of Britain was also his work. We do not know it in fact, but you can believe it because it is difficult to find the professional of equal level for such a big event.

When we tried to find some details of his biography, we discovered that he began to gain fame a few years ago, when he lived in Barcelona and worked in a restaurant as a pastry chef. We have even found people who say, they have tried his churros, which were then sold on the Rambla!

It is also known about this mysterious man that he was born in France, in a small village near Marseilles, and began his career as a baker’s assistant. Now it is very difficult to believe that. But it can be concluded that if he managed to get so much starting from nothing, he is certainly not only a very talented man but also very strong and decisive.

They say that one of Neal’s most original desserts is called “Pavlova Swan”. It was inspired by the Russian dancer Pavlova her representation of the swan. The unusualness of this dessert is that it has to be eaten very fast, or “it dies”, like this famous swan in ballet.

I don’t know about you, but I’m dying to taste something of this chef’s delights. And much mystery around his figure only arouses my interest. Who knows, maybe someday we can see his face or try something of his dishes in a restaurant opened for ordinary people, and not just for the celebrities?

For now,  he at least deserves to be mentioned in our blog about the most talented bakers in the world.

As you understand, it is rather difficult to find the recipe of some dessert of a chef who loves secrets so much. But we managed to find the recipe that is close to his chocolate tart, as people who tasted it say.

Here is it. Enjoy!

No-Bake Chocolate Tart

Ingredients

Oreo Crust:

  • 24 Oreo cookies
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick/56 g) butter, melted

Ganache filling:

  • 170 g (1 cup) coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate
  • 170 g  (1 cup) coarsely chopped milk chocolate
  • 1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream
  • ¼ cup (1/2 stick/56 g) butter, cut into small pieces

 

Instructions

    • To make the crust: Pulse Oreo cookies, with filling, in a food processor until finely ground. Put crumbs to a medium bowl, put there melted butter, and mix it. Press the mixture onto the bottom and up the sides of a tart pan. Place it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
    • To make the filling: In a medium heatproof bowl, place chopped bittersweet and milk chocolate. In a small saucepan over medium heat, boil heavy cream and butter. Remove from the heat and pour mixture over the chocolate. Let stand for 1 minute. Using a rubber spatula, stir mixture until it is melted and smooth. Pour mixture over chilled Oreo crust and refrigerate it at least 4 hours but better 6.

Seiji Yamamoto

Seiji Yamamoto was born in Japan’s Kagawa prefecture in 1970, he is currently proclaimed as one of Tokyo’s finest gourmet specialists, being a representative of the traditional Japanese cooking at 3 Michelin star restaurant “Nihon Ryori Ryugin”. His cooking is a combination of sophisticated flavors, his personal skills with clever ideas, based on the tradition of the local cuisine. Seiji Yamamoto uses as many endemic Japanese ingredients as possible to please his guests.

His restaurant is small and cozy, being clean and simple at the same time. It offers a comfortable setting helping guests to enjoy their dishes, which are based mostly on seasonal, local Japanese ingredients. The restaurant was established by Yamamoto in 2003 in Roppongi, Tokyo. Thanks to its’ successful performance Yamamoto has become popular not only as a chef but also as a cooking consultant welcomed in many restaurants around the world.  

In 2014 “Shoun Ryugin” was established in Taiwan, following the first branch “Tenku Ryugin”, which was opened up by Yamamoto in Hong Kong in 2012. This is just another step in Yamamoto’s strategy to disseminate the traditional Japanese cuisine in the world.  

Signature dish:  

MATSUBA CRAB FROM SAN-IN AND MATSUTAKE MUSHROOMS IN SHABU-SHABU HOT POT  

serves 2 to 6 people

Ingredients:

  • Matsuba crab, live, from San-I
  • Japanese Matsutake mushrooms
  • Yuzu citrus  
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Ito mitsuba stem
  • Kombu kelp  
  • Japanese Sake
  • Soy sauce

Method:

  • Cut the matsutake mushrooms.  
  • Cut the Yuzu citrus.
  • Remove the leg from living Matsuba crab.
  • Steam the body and remove the flesh.  
  • Wrap the flesh in the Chinese cabbage and tie with the Mitsuba stem.
  • Blanch the leg and remove from the shell.
  • Prepare a dashi with the shell of the crab, water, Japanese sake and kombu kelp.  
  • Season with the soy sauce.  
  • In an individual hot pot, place the matsutake mushrooms, yuzu, the crab flesh wrapped in Chinese cabbage and add the dashi.  
  • Cook the leg in a shabu-shabu style, by boiling it lightly before serving with the rest of the dish.  

Note: There are no measurements in the recipe since in Seiji’s cuisine, the ingredients are different every day. Depending on the characteristics of each product, different quantities of the ingredients are used to adjust the balance of the dish.  

Vladimir Mukhin

Vlad Mukhin is a Russian chef, the vice-champion of the S. Pellegrino Cooking Cup (2013), chef of the restaurant “White Rabbit” in Moscow.

His “White Rabbit” entered the list of 100 best restaurants in the world in 2014 rising rapidly from its 71st place in 2014 to 23rd in 2015. In 2016, at the award in New York, “White Rabbit” took the 18th place in the ranking, becoming the first Russian restaurant in the top twenty. In 2017 “White Rabbit” is 23rd again.  

Vladimir Mukhin is purporting to become a reformer, if not a revolutionary, adjusting the basics of contemporary Russian cuisine.  Some would think he is young and reckless, but his broad experience in different restaurants makes him even more skillful and wiser than some lads being twice as old as he.  

He is experimenting with traditional Russian products like borodinsky black bread, meeting in his cooking more sophisticated ingredients like caviar in order to create innovative dishes. Standouts include rabbit and mini cabbage rolls in foie gras with potato crisps and truffle juice as well as roast suckling pig and Black Sea oysters.

Known as much for his use of local, seasonal ingredients as for his charisma, Mukhin is making international waves and recently appeared in the 2017 series of Netflix’s Chef’s Table.  

Mukhin comes from a long line of cooks. He began his career in 12, practicing at the very same kitchen with his father. He studied cooking in his University, getting apprenticeships in various restaurants of Moscow. Mukhin did really well there, therefore became the chef of Bulochnaya cafe in 2003.  

“White Rabbit” had already been famous in Moscow by the time they invited Mukhin to become their chef. They desperately needed someone to contribute fresh ideas into the long-dormant cooking of Moscow. Together they began to grow as fast as possible in the cooking art world. Now both Mukhin and his restaurant are the most promising phenomena happening to Moscow’s fine cooking.  

Traditional borscht recipe (Mukhin hasn’t shared his signature recipes yet):  

Ingredients for Borscht with Meat:

(This list looks lengthy but the ingredients are simple)  

1 lb Beef: sirloin, stew meat, or whatever kind of beef you like, really (bone-in or boneless *see note)

14 cups cold water

1 Tbsp salt + more to taste

2 large or 3 medium beets, washed, peeled and grated

4 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp vinegar

1 Tbsp sugar

2 Tbsp tomato sauce, or paste (or 3 Tbsp ketchup)

1 Tbsp butter

1 medium onion, finely diced

2 carrots, grated

2 large or 3 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced into bite-sized pieces

1/2 head of small cabbage, sliced

2 tomatoes, peeled and diced (**see note)

2 bay leaves

1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley + more for garnish

2 cloves garlic, pressed

Garnish: Sour cream and fresh sprigs of parsley or dill.

How To Make Borscht with Meat:

Wash meat in cold water, cut into 1″ pieces and place in a large soup pot with 14 cups cold water and 1 Tbsp salt. Bring it to a boil and remove the foam crud as soon as it boils (if you wait, it will be hard to get rid of the crud as it integrates into the broth and you’d have to strain it).

Lower the heat, partially cover and cook at a low boil 45 minutes – 1 hr, periodically skimming off any crud that rises to the top.  

Grate beets on the large grater holes (the food processor works amazingly well). Place them in a large heavy-bottom skillet with 4 Tbsp olive oil and 1 Tbsp vinegar and saute for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to med/low and add 1 Tbsp sugar and 2 Tbsp tomato sauce Mix thoroughly and saute until starting to soften, stirring occasionally (about 10 min). Remove from pan and set aside.

In the same skillet (no need to wash it), Saute onion in 1 Tbsp butter for 2 min. Add grated carrot and saute another 5 min or until softened, adding more oil if it seems too dry.

Once the meat has been cooking at least 45 min, place sliced potatoes into the soup pot and cook 10 min, then add cabbage, sauteed beets, onion & carrot, and chopped tomatoes. Cook another 10 minutes or until potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork.

Add 2 bay leaves, 1/4 tsp pepper, and more salt to taste (I added another 1/2 tsp salt).

Antonio Bachour

Antonio was born in Puerto Rico, and since he was very young he became to interest in the art of pastry. All his childhood he spent in his family’s bakery.

 

In 2001 he moved to Miami Beach to become an executive pastry chef at Taula. Then he worked at  Devito South Beach and Scarpetta in New York City and Miami.

In 2011 Antonio Bachour was selected as one of “Top 10 Pastry Chefs” in the United States by the Dessert Professional magazine. In this year he also participated and was in the final of the International Chef Congress Pastry Competition.  

For now,  Bachour is the executive pastry chef at St. Regis Bal Harbour Hotel.  

Antonio Bachour has published three books, he travels all over the world with his master-class. and also he is very active in social networks.  

He has many of his recipes published, so it is one of them. Try it, you won’t regret!

Sheep’s Yogurt Panna Cotta

Ingredients:

  • 448 g heavy cream
  • 224 g granulated sugar
  • 5 gelatin sheets (silver)
  • 756 g sheep’s yogurt

Steps

Soak gelatin in ice water until softened; squeeze out excess water and set aside

Heat the cream with sugar in a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Remove from heat. Add gelatin and stir to dissolve. Stir in yogurt. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and let cool. Cover and refrigerate the panna cotta until set, about 8 hours

Berry Fluid Gel:

Ingredients:

  • 168 g strawberry pure
  • 168 g raspberry puree
  • 168 g cherry puree
  • 5 g agar agar 
  • 112 g granulated sugar

 

Steps:

Boil purees, agar and sugar in a small pot. Refrigerate until cool before processing in a blender until creamy and smooth. (To get a shinier texture, you can add a little of the puree while processing in the blender.) Pour into a plastic bottle for assembly.

 

Lime Cremeux:

Ingredients:

  • 2 gelatin sheets (silver)
  • 15.8 oz/448 g heavy cream
  • 4 oz/112 g granulated sugar
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime

Steps:

Soak gelatin in ice water until softened; squeeze out excess water and set aside.

Heat cream with the sugar, lime juice, and zest. Remove from heat and stir in gelatin to dissolve. Cool cream over an ice bath and whisk to thicken. Refrigerate for 12 hours before whipping in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until stiff. Put into a pastry bag for assembly.

Berry Sorbet:

Ingredients:

  • 380 g water
  • 280 g granulated sugar
  • 4 g sorbet stabilizer
  • 100 g atomized glucose
  • 252 g raspberry puree
  • 252 g strawberry puree 
  • 252 g cherry puree
  • 14 g lemon juice

Steps:

Warm the water to 104ºF, then add the sugar, glucose, stabilizer and let it boil. Strain and refrigerate to cool. Combine with purees and lemon juice before processing in an ice cream machine.

Assembly:

  • Assorted berries
  • Edible flowers and herbs

Plate the panna cotta. Pipe Lime Cremeux on the left side of the plate and place berries on top. Place a quenelle of Berry Sorbet on the center of the plate. Garnish with Berry Fluid Gel. You can add edible flowers and herbs before serving.

Julian Perrigo-Jimenez

From the young age, this pastry chef knew what he wanted to do for living. He grew up in Folsom, and his grandmother and uncle were cooks, so he always wanted to help them in the kitchen – especially when they were cooking bread and desserts. “I fell in love with the artistic side of baking,” he says. “I like to create different flavors and presentations…to innovate.”

After his graduation from the culinary school, he practiced in many different places – like cruise ships, hotels, and resorts. He also traveled the world to continue his education and work with famous chefs.  

Nowadays Julian own his restaurant Patisserie and Café in hometown. Having his own place is a dream come true, yet it also represents the culmination of many years of hard work and dedication. “You’re not a chef after [culinary] school…it’s a title you earn.”  

Here is one of his desserts that we managed to find.

White chocolate mousse

Ingredients:

  • 255g white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup + 6 tablespoons (330ml) heavy whipping cream, cold, divided
  • 1/2 cup (58g) powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tablespoon vanilla extract

Strawberry sauce

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup (110g) chopped strawberries
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon water

Steps:

  1. Put the white chocolate chips into a medium-sized bowl.
  2. Heat 6 tablespoons of heavy cream until it starts to boil, then pour over the white chocolate chips. Cover with clear wrap and let it sit for 3-4 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Cool it to room temperature.
  3. Whip remaining 1 cup of heavy whipping cream in a large mixer bowl. Whip until cream begins to thicken, then add powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Continue whisking until stiff peaks.
  4. Carefully fold about 1/3 of the whipped cream into the cooled white chocolate mixture and mix it.
  5. Fold in the remaining whipped cream until well combined.  
  6. Divide the mousse between cups and refrigerate until it becomes firm.
  7. While the mousse firms, combine the strawberries, sugar, and water and put it in the fridge for 1-2 hours. The sauce will be made from strawberry juice and sugar. Spoon the strawberry mixture over the white chocolate mousse cups before serving.

Rene Redzepi

Rene Redzepi is a Danish celebrity chef of mixed Macedonian-Danish descent, still young and ambitious. The 39-old cook is known for reinventing the Nordic cuisine since he was the first chef to develop the New Nordic Cuisine principles that have been growing rapidly since the 2000s. He put his particular emphasis on using local, seasonal ingredients, benefiting from Scandinavia’s soil, water, climate, and nature. His motto is “purity, simplicity, and freshness” which he adheres to while working with traditional Scandinavian recipes.  

Rene’s influence on the international cooking scene is enormous, his 2 Michelin stars restaurant “Noma” is a must-visit tourist destination in Copenhagen. Redzepi doesn’t hesitate to use weird, at first glance, ingredients, such as musk ox’s meat or moss. At the same time, he works with local seafood and different kinds of berries.  

Redzepi started his cooking path in 1993 at Copenhagen’s Restaurant Pierre André. Then he moved to France to work at the 3-star Le Jardin Des Sens in Montpellier. After that he gained extensive experience, working at such honoured restaurants, as  Ferran Adrià’s acclaimed El Bulli in Rosas, Spain; Thomas Keller’s 3-star Michelin restaurant The French Laundry; and lastly, being employed as sous chef under Chef Thomas Rode Andersen at Copenhagen’s famed Kong Hans Kælder. Noma opening in 2003 followed this challenging career path.  

Since the opening of Noma, Redzepi has received many awards for his work at it. Since 2005, Noma has been uninterruptedly rated as the best restaurant in Copenhagen. I believe, Noma totally deserves it. The restaurant gained its first Michelin star in 2005, the second one was granted in 2007.

Signature dish: Pork skin sandwich

Ingredients

For the pork skins

  • 2 pieces pork skin (each approximately 3x7cm/1¼x2¾in)
  • 1 tbsp brown butter
  • oil, for frying
  • salt
  • 1 lemon, zest only

For the Marmite glaze

  • 50g/1¾oz Marmite
  • 50g/1¾oz butter
  • lemon juice

For the white cabbage

  • 7 large white cabbage leaves
  • Marmite glaze (from above)
  • oil, for basting

For the seasoning

  • 6 slices of a tart apple, such as Granny Smith
  • 1 lemon, juice only
  • 8 lemon verbena leaves (each about 5cm/2in long)
  • sour pickles

Steps

  • For the pork skins, remove all the fat from the skins and place in a vacuum-pack bag with the brown butter and seal the bag. Cook in a steam oven at 80C/175F steam for 10 hours.
  • After 10 hours, reduce the oven temperature to 65C/150F and the moisture to 10%. Alternatively, heat your oven to the lowest possible temperature and place a roasting tin half filled with boiling water on the bottom shelf.
  • Line a baking tray with baking parchment, remove the pork skin from the vacuum-pack bag and spread it on the lined baking tray. Cook for another 8-10 hours, or until completely dry. Store in an airtight container if not using immediately.
  • Heat the oil to 190-200C/375-400F in a large heavy-based pan (CAUTION: hot oil can be dangerous. Do not leave unattended.). Add the dried pork skins for approximately 15 seconds until they puff up. While cooking, use two pairs of tweezers to prevent the pork skins from curling (CAUTION: wear oven gloves and take great care not burn yourself while using the tweezers. Alternatively use cooking tongs). Place on kitchen towels to allow any excess oil to drain off. Season the pork skins with salt and lemon zest.
  • For the Marmite glaze, add the butter, Marmite and 25g/1oz water to a large pan. Pulse with an immersion blender until lightly emulsified and season with a little lemon juice, to taste.
  • For the white cabbage, brush the cabbage leaves lightly with oil and grill on a very hot barbecue until caramelized on both sides (alternatively, place under a hot grill). Cut them to the approximate shape and size of the pork skins and warm through in the Marmite glaze.
  • To serve, place a piece of cabbage on one of the puffed pork skins, followed by three apple slices, a little lemon juice, four lemon verbena leaves and a little salt.
  • Layer the next five cabbage leaves, then the remaining apple slices, lemon verbena and a touch of lemon juice. Top with the last cabbage leaf and the second piece of puffed pork skin. Serve with a small bowl of sour pickles.

 

Marie-Antoine Carême: the King of Chefs, and the Chef of Kings

Carême is a famous French chef who served Napoleon Bonaparte, tsar Alexander I and the other royalty of Europe. The chef wrote a lot of classic books on cuisine, that’s why Carême is considered as one of the founders of French grande cuisine.

 

His family was very poor. So Carême began his career very early when he was 15. Marie-Antoine was working as a kitchen helper. After that, he started in a fashionable pastry shop, in Paris. There he met Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand, 1st Prime Minister of France in the government of Napoleon.

 

Carême became the chef of Talleyrand for 12 years. Next, he found the job at court of George IV, King of Great Britain. But the British King was a difficult personality, so the King of the Chefs went to Russia to serve Tsar Alexander I of Russia.

 

In fact Carême was so popular because he was good in decorating the table and the dishes. He invited a lot of things for example, Royal French Apple Pies making specially for King of England.

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1,5 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 600g apples
  • 100g coconut sugar
  • 1,5 tablespoon cornflour mixed with a tablespoon cold water
  • 20g butter
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1 egg beaten with milk
  • 1 packet Puff Pastry

 

STEPS

  • Unroll the pastry and dust it with flour.
  • Flip over and dust also the underside with flour.
  • Cut the pastry in lengthways.
  • Roll each piece of pastry.
  • Put pastry in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  • Combine the apple, a little bit of sugar, butter and 2 tablespoons water and mix them.
  • Cook for 15 minutes.
  • Transfer apples to a plate and pop in the fridge to cool.
  • Brush the edges and place the remaining pastry on top of the apple and press sides to seal.
  • Bake it for 15 minutes.
  • Serve hot with chocolate and strawberry ice cream.

Anne-Sophie Pic: The grande dame of French gastronomy

Anne-Sophie Pic named the Best Female Chef by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants was born in France, in Valence. Pic is from a dynasty of cooks. Her father had a restaurant Maison Pic. When she was a little girl, she decided to become a chef as her grandfather, Andre Pic.

After the school graduation, Anne-Sophie decided to learn a work of chef outside France. So she went to Japan and also to the United States. During her travel, Anne-Sophie was strongly influenced by different cultures and especially cooking traditions.

When Anne-Sophie Pic returned to France, she began to work under her father control and then she became a director of the family restaurant.

Her fantastic career didn’t stop to create a family. Anne-Sophie was married with David Sinapian. She has a son.

Now Anne-Sophie Pic is very popular and respectful.  Le Figaro met her on the list of the top twenty richest chefs in France, she received the Veuve Clicquot World’s Best Female Chef award and a lot of others awards professional.

Her favorite recipe is Royal Fish Pie.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1,5 cup flour
  • 375g butter puff pastry
  • White part of leek 
  • 1 small bulb fennel
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped finely
  • 1 medium potato, peeled and chopped finely
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 180g smoked ocean trout fillet
  • 180g smoked cod fillet
  • 180g smoked mackerel fillets
  • 1-liter milk
  • 50g butter
  • 1,5 cup finely grated strong cheddar
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped tarragon
  • 1,5 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 cup frozen peas

STEPS

  • Place vegetables, fish, and milk together in a pan over a medium-low heat.
  • Cook for 15 minutes.
  • Strain fish into a colander.
  • To make the sauce heat butter over a medium heat until melted.
  • Add flour and 500ml of milk from the fish.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Add cheddar, chopped fennel fronds, tarragon, parsley, peas, salt, and pepper. 
  • Add the sauce.
  • Remove pastry from the packet.
  • Roll the pastry over the top of the filling.
  • Trim edges.
  • Brush pastry with egg.
  • Place pie on a baking tray in the preheated oven, bake for 10 minutes.
  • Serve with a green salad.

Joël Robuchon, Chef of the Century

Joël Robuchon was born in the old French city Poitiers. His family was big, so Joël was just as one of four brothers. When he was young, he already wanted to become a chef of the cuisine.

 

In the beginning, Joël worked in the kitchen of the Catholic seminary. It was a hard work. When future star of the French cuisine was 15 years old, he had a chance to find a place of apprentice chef at the hotel.

 

Next Joël decided to travel throughout his country for learning a variety of diverse regional dishes of France. It was really a life-changing experience. After it, he opened his own restaurant in Paris. He called it Jamin.  

 

Unfortunately, Joël Robuchon has never enjoyed good health. He had a lot of heart attacks, so the chef or the century had to retire at the age of 50. But Joël Robuchon found another way to realize himself. He opened a lot of restaurants all over the world and started his own TV show named Cuisinez comme un grand chef. Then he hosted Bon appétit bien sûr.

 

Thanks to his talent and perfectionism of his cuisine Joël Robuchon has of 28 Michelin Guide stars. Nobody has more.   

 

He created a lot of recipes, and now we want to show you one of them. It’s a Chocolate Truffle Slice with almonds and pistachios, from the sphere of the elegant Dark Chocolate Pastry.

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 300g Dark Chocolate pastry with almonds
  • 1 cup pistachios
  • 400g dark couverture chocolate (75% – 80%), broken into pieces
  • 320ml pure cream
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup dried blueberries

 

STEPS

  • Place pistachios on a baking tray and pop in the oven to lightly roast for 10 minutes.
  • Bake the dark chocolate pastry with almonds in the baker paper for 16 minutes.
  • Break the chocolate.
  • Place it in a bowl.
  • Warm the cream.
  • Add to this the cranberries and blueberries.
  • Put it into the baked sheet of pastry.
  • Sprinkle with the pistachios.
  • Leave in the fridge for 2 hours.
  • Serve cold with hot chocolate.

Alain Passard

Nature wrote the best book.

Alain Passard is 61 years old and he is one of France’s most famous chefs. He has been managing his internationally famous restaurant called l’Arpège for almost 30 years. Three decades ago its’ name was l’Archestrate – it was the name given by Passard’s mentor, Alain Senderens, who was the previous owner of the restaurant. Passard bought it and changed the name to l’Arpège to reflect his passion for music. For aesthetic reasons, he redecorated it in Art Deco style. Passard opened l’Arpège in 1986 and gained three Michelin stars by 1996.

Passard shocked the whole cooking world by banning meat from his restaurant and presenting his new menu largely based on vegetables and seafood. He set up three organic gardens in the surrounding area of Paris to make sure he gets fresh fruits and vegetables of the highest quality and in the right season, with both of these gardens having special kinds of soil suiting particular products. When the news about this transformation spread, the French media praised Passard for his decision. He was called “ the vegetable lover”, “the vegetable craftsman”, and “the vegetable artist”. There were even those asking him whether he was a living god, considering his enormous cooking skills.   

Passard was born in a musical family in the small town of La-Guerche-de-Bretagne in Brittany on August 4, 1956. His father played clarinet, saxophone, and drums, while his mother was a seamstress. Alain himself has played sax for years as a hobby. Apart from nature, music is the greatest passion in his life. His grandmother Louise Passard-Alain was supportive for his first steps in cooking. She passed the cooking secrets to her grandson while they sat together around the fire in her kitchen. Alain learned the finest points of her cooking skills in a short time and put them into practice. Louise also instilled Alain with love to cooking, they really enjoyed shopping together. She taught him how to choose the right ingredients in the market, prepare them, mix them, cook them and all the other details that make the meal an unforgettable event.

Nature is the most important source of inspiration for him. He loves to say that “nature wrote the best cookbook, but I simply follow the seasons and use what grows from the soil”.

Like his grandmother, Alain has enough imagination to turn a simple apple pie into a bouquet of exotic roses.

He was apprenticed to the local baker at La Guerche being 10 years old, and by the age of 15 he was already working in the kitchen of Lyon d’Or, which was run by Michel Krever – one of the first chefs holding a Michelin star in Brittany at that time. He gained a lot of professional experience there and was introduced to the basic elements of the classic French cuisine, including making sauces, slicing ingredients, and the basics of banquet service as well as taking the opportunity to do special research on such issues as Chaud-Froid poultry and the preparation of the Bellevue rock lobster.

From 1975 to 1976 he worked at the 3-star La Chaumiere restaurant in Reims under the patronage of Gaston Boyer, who was committed to an absolutely traditional style of the classic French cuisine. His varied experience has taught him the importance of creative thinking. He won the first two Michelin stars at Le Duc D’Enghien at the Enghien Casino in the outskirts of Paris being only 26. He was very proud of this achievement.

He then moved to Carlton in Brussels in 1984. Since then he has gained a good reputation in the cooking world and many chefs were inspired by his approach.

Signature dish:  

Rose Apple Pie  

Serves: 6 tartlets

Ingredients

  • 6 mini pie crusts, baked (6 oz pie crust; 170g)
  • 2½ apples 
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons chopped walnut

For caramel glaze:

  • ½ cup granulated sugar (100g)
  • ¼ cup water (60ml)

Instructions

1. In a bowl mix granulated sugar and ground cinnamon.

2. Finely slice unpeeled apples.

3. In a large non-stick frying pan, spread sugar-cinnamon mixture, 1 tablespoon for one apple. When the sugar starts to melt, arrange apple slices and over medium heat cook for 1 minute without flipping. When the apple slices are wilted down, transfer them to a large plate. The caramelized side should face upwards, otherwise, the slice might stick to the plate. And let completely cool. Repeat with the remaining apple slices. And divide chopped walnuts among the baked mini tart shells.

4. For apple roses, start with a small slice. Roll the slices until the rose reaches the size you want. and roll it. Then arrange over the walnuts. Repeat until the mini tart shells are full of flowers.

5. Warm the pies in the oven preheated to 390 degrees F. (190C) for 5 minutes.

6. To make caramel glaze, add in granulated sugar in a thick-bottom pan. Over medium heat, melt sugar without water and cook until the sugar starts to turn light brown. Very carefully add in ¼ cup of water and cook for 1 minute stirring constantly. And brush the apple roses with caramel glaze.