Why do we need Michelin stars? French cook’s revelations
Parisian chef Nicolas Baumann from the Maison Rostang restaurant (2 Michelin stars) came to Moscow to perform at the Taste of France festival and give a gala dinner at the residence of the French ambassador.
We did not miss the opportunity to talk with the Parisian guest about the most important thing: what French taste and chic are, why there are fewer and fewer French restaurants outside of France, and is it really important today for the boss to fight for the Red Guide stars.
But at the same time they asked for three simple French recipes, for which Russian products are enough.
In Russia, French restaurants today are clearly outnumbered.
Most people consider French cuisine to be too complex, expensive, and old-fashioned, like family pearls.
In general, not for every day.
Why do you think meat in Burgundy is inferior in popularity to a burger?
In many ways, the French themselves are to blame. What a sin to conceal, we have inherent gastronomic snobbery.
For us, high French cuisine is a national symbol that unites the country no worse than Marseillaise.
For a long time, French chefs very successfully sold themselves abroad, we recall at least Antonin Karem, who served for many years at the Russian imperial court.
We ourselves have long worked on this image — that the French are born with a golden fork in their hands and absorb table etiquette along with their mother’s milk.
Is that really so?
French cuisine is really as complicated as they think about it?
Not really. What is happening now in Parisian restaurants is a movement towards simplicity, towards the naturalness of tastes, towards minimalism on a plate. Traditional regional recipes, to which the chefs are now of great interest, are not at all as “sophisticated” as the dishes from Michelin chefs.
And cook them under the power of anyone. The only condition is the products.
Here the Frenchman will never compromise, choosing only the best.
What in our crisis time is also not the best way affects the price tag of French restaurants.
Club sandwich with sardines suitable for a buffet table or a house party (recipe see here)
That is, if there is no foie gras truffle on hand, it is not worth while to start a French dish?
Not at all. We also don’t eat truffles and foie gras every day.
For me, the main product in the kitchen is butter. After all, the quality of sauces depends on it, and they are the hallmark of French cuisine. The quality of the base products is important.
Oil, salt, sugar, flour.
It all depends on them. There are French recipes that have long become world stars, which are made from the simplest things — for example, apple pie tart-taten or gratin dofinoy.
Even the most ordinary mashed potatoes can immediately tell you that the Frenchman was cooking it — because there will be a lot of excellent butter in it.
By the way, about the stars.
Several years ago there was a whole wave, when eminent chefs refused Michelin stars, considering that the Red Guide drives them into certain limits. Even now, young chefs often prefer not to go as henchmen to Michelin restaurants, but to open up something simpler, like a gastro-bistro, but one’s own.
You are the exact opposite: you came to the personal restaurant of the famous Michel Rostand, where there were already two stars, and became the official receiver of this family business.
There was no desire to go your own way?
I see my work at Maison Rostang as belonging to a family. Michel has two daughters, but they deal with financial matters. Monsieur Rostand did not want to lose the gastronomic connection of the times, so he was looking for a decent receiver, who would stand at the helm of the restaurant.
By the time I was his right hand for five years, his decisions to make me a full partner are quite logical.
For me, 2 stars is not a burden on your shoulders, but rather a sign of valor that gives you a certain weight in the profession.
I would like to earn a third star.
It’s my goal.
Tart-taten according to the recipe of the restaurant Maison Rostang the chef himself calls "incredible".
And this seems to be true (the recipe is here).
But the star is usually given not to the chef, but to the restaurant …
Formally, but everyone understands that if the chef changes, then the restaurant loses stars. Hypothetically, if I suddenly decide to leave the restaurant, Michel will have to look for a chef with two stars in order to maintain parity.
And I need to work at least a few years to win at least the first star, after all, it’s very, very difficult to please the Michelin inspectors.
Do you think that in the future the French will retain the status of “kings of cuisine” or a brand such as French Gourmet is not so well “sold” in the world?
Fashion is a fleeting concept, but it would be foolish to deny that it is French cuisine that is the alphabet of all modern cooking technologies. Blanching, frying, stewing, longing — all this is exactly the French who organized into the system.
Even such a super modern technique as suvid (cooking in vacuum at low temperatures — approx. ed.
) it is not by chance that it is called the French word.
Gratin dofinua — the best that the French can do with potatoes (recipe here)
What dishes do you think are French cuisine?
French sauces are a brand to which every chef is free to add Asian or Latin American fashion notes, but the cooking technique does not change. Tarts, that is, open pies.
In Paris, mothers after school take their children to a candy store to eat a piece of tart-tatin together. This, of course, croissants and other pastries.
The French tradition is not to dress the dish like a bride and cook the broth for ten hours.
This is a cooking system that allows the product to reveal its best qualities and create harmony on a plate.
And this harmony can be in anything — even in a simple apple pie, even in a canape with a pate. Today, fashion can suddenly happen on Scandinavian sandwiches, tomorrow on Asian noodles, the day after tomorrow on Moroccan couscous.
But to learn good taste people go to France.