A three Michelin-starred chef at his beloved region, Champagne, presents how restaurants should be with maintaining his family-owned and operated restaurant.

L’ASSIETTE CHAMPENOISE
Arnaud Lallement

L’ASSIETTE CHAMPENOISE cuisine

Please explain your dish.

Mr. Lallement :
I have focused on cooking my dishes with authentic seasonal ingredients like champagne which is pure, straight, nice and sour.

My dishes are very simple. Most of the guests of our restaurant are not professional and don’t expect the dishes with a culinary technique. Even if we cook dishes with a technique, it must be invisible to guests because it is the taste of ingredients in place of a technique to arouse emotion in guests.

Cooking must contain a love. My kitchen is overflowing with love of cooks. Cooking always makes my heart radiant and me feel alive at the precious moment.

It is a pity that I cannot eat a dish of green peas today.

Mr. Lallement :
You will see why you cannot have green peas when you go outside. You find that it is rainy, cold and humid today. You can get mushrooms tomorrow. We have to wait for green peas until July because green peas here, in the region of Champagne, grow only under the good weather with high temperature.

I understand the climate and all the seasons of each ingredient of the Champagne region. I have achieved a strong relationship with all the producers and artisans in the region. That is why I hope to continue to cook here.

What do you think that chefs receive media exposure?

Mr. Lallement :
Our restaurant is always full, lunch and dinner for every day. I do not have time to do anything else and I will never leave the kitchen for media exposure. If there are chefs who appear on television every week, they just have their passion for that. I don’t express any value judgements regarding this issue. I will neither criticize anything other chefs do nor judge anything about it. The important thing is that each chef decide by themselves what they have to do with their own passion.

L’ASSIETTE CHAMPENOISE cuisine

Your dish is a classic french gastronomy with a sauce. What do you think the reasons for your acquisition of three stars? Because of the development of your dish?

Mr. Lallement :
I think that a french gastronomy must have sauce. I feel sad when the dishes without sauce go on from the beginning to the end at the restaurant.

In spite of the acquisition of three stars, we don’t feel the development of our dishes although, according to our guests, our guests told us that they felt evolution and progress in our dishes. It is difficult for us to feel evolution because we stay in the kitchen all of the day.

Do you mean that nothing changed for your spirit before and after winning three stars?

Mr. Lallement :
Everything has developed with the acquisition of three stars. The evaluation of Michelin three stars means that we received the official go-ahead in the restaurant industry. It is an undeniable fact that the restaurant could have enough leeway to maintain our policy.

I have focused on what I have wanted to do so far. The acquisition of the three stars allowed us to continue what we have done. Regardless of the number of Michelin stars, we keep our hospitality to satisfy our guests.

L’ASSIETTE CHAMPENOISE Arnaud Lallement

Future plans and messages to young chefs (2014- present)

You run just this auberge/restaurant business here. Don’t you have any plan to enlarge your business?

Mr. Lallement :
I think rather that we have everything here than that we have only this place. The restaurant is always fine and full for lunch and dinner every day. I have 55 employees and spend 16 or 17 hours every day at the restaurant. That is pretty tough. This is something I have to continue in the future, that is why I do not plan to expand the scale of the actual operation.

Many chefs of three-starred restaurants have tried to develop their activities such as having branches, cooking schools and retail stores in neighboring towns, in Paris or out of France.

Mr. Lallement :
It is strange for me that many chefs try to open several restaurants one after the other, but I think that each chef has to do as they want. A former Michelin three starred chef owned only a gastronomy restaurant for a long time, but he developed his business in a different direction with closing his gastronomy restaurant.

In fact, people from outside always bring me some proposals of new projects, but for the moment, I don’t have any intention to change our policy of a family-run gastronomic restaurant. I have spent a lot of time and energies on this restaurant because that has made me happy.

Please give your advice to young cooks, chefs and future owner chefs of restaurants.

Mr. Lallement :
All they can do is to work at full power with passion. This is the most important thing. They have to concentrate their energies on what they can do and on what you need to do without complaining that you cannot go on vacation or have no time to go out with comparing to other young of the same generation. They have to recognize that it is wonderful to have something to concentrate their energies on. Today’s young people study at school while training at restaurant in order to acquire knowledge and skills at their age of 15 or 16 years old. Some young people abandon or get tired of cooking before they become chefs although they may become a three starred chef twenty years later if they continue their effort. I’d like them to gain success after their endless effort. I believe that chef’s work is a wonderful job which is worth the effort for a long time.

Although some people say chefs are artisans, a talent is still important, isn’t it?

Mr. Lallement :
You must have a talent at every stage of your career as a chef. An artisanal aspect, an artistic aspect, a talent and a passion… all of them are important for chefs. Chefs have to love to cook and our dishes must have cooks’ soul.

Would you tell us about the source of your passion and about your vision for the future?

Mr. Lallement :
It is all about Champagne that have driven me to cooking with passion.

What is on my mind is to do the best with the task at hand at every moment. The most important task for me at this moment is to concentrate all my energies on today’s lunch. To give hospitality to our guests is the most significant thing for me in my life.

(Interviewer, writer: Yoko ISHIKURO/ Photographs: L’ASSIETTE CHAMPENOISE)

L’ASSIETTE CHAMPENOISE interior

L’ASSIETTE CHAMPENOISE appearance

L’ASSIETTE CHAMPENOISE

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40 Avenue Paul Vaillant-Couturier, 51430 Tinqueux,
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Thursday-Monday : 12 :00 – 13 :30, 19 :30 – 21 :30
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