A professional who doesn’t indulge in self satisfaction and takes great joy in bringing in food to his clients
What is professional work for you?
Never be satisfied – you can always do better. Respect the product.
Respect the classical style, respect seasoning, cooking, and hygiene. Practice something again and again for an even better result.
Furthermore, be proud when you present your dishes. When I do something, I do it well or I don’t do it. Anyone can just do something. However, doing something well means choosing where we are going to put it, and picking the colors and the presentation. And then when we serve it, we are satisfied. That’s professional work.
What do you expect from your staff?
I don’t raise my voice, but I expect good work. They can always find my sous-chefs or me around here, so if anything needs to be confirmed I expect this to be done.
I arrive in the kitchen at 8 am, everybody leaves at midnight, but I stay until 1 am. We have followed this rhythm since the opening. That’s why even though we opened two years ago, it feels as if ten years have passed.
You have always been very diligent, right?
Yes. I worked a lot, and I didn’t take any holidays. Rather than going on leave, I sought more experience.
When the restaurant closed in August, I would go for unpaid internships in restaurants such as Alain Passard and Grand Vefour. I was able to see plenty of new things and improve.
I love my job and I’m completely taken by it. I have dedicated my whole life to my profession and I aim for the top.
Still full of passion for cooking, he is aiming for the three stars.
What are your reflections about today’s French cuisine?
Everywhere in the world, we have a lot of great chefs. There is a wave of Japanese cooks who have worked in French cuisine, and a wave of French cooks who worked overseas.
There are a lot of amazing restaurants, and therefore huge competition. Before there was only Le Bristol, the Laurent, and Ledoyen after that, Le Clarence, Jean-Francois Piège, Thierry Marx and we arrived around here. Now young chefs are also opening restaurants one after the other: Tomy and Co, Restaurant Kei, Alliance…
There is increasingly more competition and there are more and more styles, and so many great cooks. Each of us have his own style.
In conclusion : There’s a large range of restaurants of different sizes, with a wide range of influences. A lot of very good cooks and a lot to learn…
I always check when young people opening their restaurants what they do. It’s necessary to communicate, I communicate on Instagram or Facebook, in order to attract people. I like to show what I’m doing.
Tonight, I’m going to show how we work to a young Japanese cook who wants to work for us. He is going to sit on a chair and observe. I would like the decision to come from him after seeing what I’m doing, and how I work. I won’t hide anything, and what I’m going to show will be the truth. I want to show him my style and how we work in my kitchen. I want to be open. I don’t want cooks that come here just because it’s a stared restaurant.
Do you have any other interest besides cuisine?
I have my family, my children.
My hobbies are to go to the market, to check out the products, to eat at someone’s place. It’s always more or less linked to cooking. If I invite people over or talk to someone, my conversation and activities still revolve around cooking. I like to looking at pastry and trying them out. I like going to Spain or Brittany to gather ingredients.
I like to discover new things, try new ingredients, and gather and exchange information. I don’t really have any passions outside cooking.
What’s your dream?
During the year that followed the opening, I couldn’t take any time off. Now after two years, the teams, including the service team are all set. Now that the organization is in place, we have to move forward and tackle the next challenge. In 2018-2019 we are aiming for excellence. I want to do an even better job and reach the top.
I want Le Gabriel at La Reserve to become a grand restaurant, a reference like the George V, the Bristol, and the Plaza Athénée. I want a great reputation for the hotel because the owner put his faith in me. I want the hotel to be at its best in every way, in the bedrooms, in the bar, in La Pagode, in Le Gabriel. I want people to be impressed by its standing.
Now I’m forty-five; at fifty I’ll do something else. I’ll be too tired to continue with these long hours. I don’t know what yet, but it will be something related to cooking.
At the end of my career I want to be able to look back and think, “I’ve done it all.”
(Interview, text: Akiko AWA, pictures: Hiroki TAGMA)