Every step of my career, from cooking school to my first job, has had an impact. I had some great teachers in cooking school who inspired me and truly set the foundation for me. I always knew I wanted to work for the best, so I spent 25 years in NYC, where I worked for Daniel Boulud, Francois Payard, and Alain Ducasse. At Daniel, I learnt more about NY kitchens and culture. Payard gave me the freedom to express myself in my menu development, and at Ducasse, I was able to tie everything together that I had already learnt and bring it to the next level.
Knife skills, cleanliness, and organization are three skills that are very important in the kitchen. You also must have an open mind, a willingness to learn, and a strong team and work ethic.
I keep my team inspired and motivated by coaching them. I work by their side all day, and spend time teaching them new tricks and techniques.
I always encourage young chefs to strive to work for the best in the industry because they will learn an incredible amount from those experiences.
My advice to all young cooks is to learn the basics first. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions!
Don’t try to rush your career growth; it takes time. You have to learn your craft first. Also, you should always give a restaurant a full year so you can learn seasonality of the business.
Early on, when I was 11, I saw the life in the Quartier Latin in Paris. There were so many restaurants in that neighborhood, and I knew that I wanted to be a part of this industry. I also grew up on a farm, just above Bordeaux, where I cooked family recipes and found a lot of pleasure in it. My mother taught me the seasonality of ingredients and how food can be comforting. I now strive to be able to pass the pleasure of cooking with seasonal ingredients onto my team, and our guests.
Some books I recommend to any chef to read are: the Alain Ducasse cookbooks, "The Flavor Bible" by Karen Page, and the Larousse Gastronomique.
Don't ever take anything for granted at any stage of your career.
Learn your craft, perfect it, and then teach and share it with your peers.