Photo by Douglas Mc Wall
Two stars at 26, 3 stars at 40
Then after that what did you do?
At 26 I was chef at Le Duc d’Enghien in Enghien’s Casino and earned 2 stars, I was the youngest ever chef to get 2 stars.
Then Jean Mailian, the owner of the Carlton in Brussels, invited me to work for him. There he left everything up to me, I was completely free to create, and I also earned 2 stars.
In 1986, at age 30, you took over Alain Senderens’ old place. Could you elaborate on that?
Alain Senderens wasn’t working there anymore, he was at Lucas Carton. The owner of the restaurant approached me.
It must have been a big deal!
It was a tremendous opportunity. I love this place, I feel good in this place. After a year I earned 1 star, after 2 years, 2 stars, and in 1996, at 40, finally my third star! I’ve also been lucky to have a great staff, such as Pascal Barbot and Chrisan Rohat who opened Astrance.
The same path with others is not always good
what is important in a chef’s career?
It’s a life choice, what’s important is to feel good. I’m feeling good, I feel like myself, I have an establishment that reflects who I am, and I stay here.
It’s important to always feel you’re learning. You need this desire to learn, to look for something, to try something different, don’t always take the same path. To foster your creativity you need to try this and that, try new ideas and choices, don’t always pick the direct route.
What would be your message for a young cook?
First of all, work, because nothing comes without work. So work relentlessly. Then try to take things, and make them yours. Always enjoy things, in order to be happy, enthusiastic, have la joie de vivre.
For young cooks making their way in the cooking world, it’s not always easy, do you have any tips to help them face those challenges?
Cooking is a wonderful profession. Every day is as fresh as the first day. Every day, when I come to work, I come as if it was the first day.
The best motivation is to cook seasonal food. When you cook seasonal food, you can’t get tired of it.