Masterchef S01 ep16: Jean-Jacques Rachou, La Cote Basque Restaurant, [New York]
Interview with Jean-Jacques Rachou
New York in 1962 was very different. At the time we didn't have the produce that we have available now. Now you are able to find anything you want, any type of mushroom, truffles, creams, vegetables, fish, it is a very big, big change.
KM: What is La Cote Basque?
What it means to me is that it is a 60 year old restaurant that I took over in 1979 - I love it, it is a great name and a great restaurant.
KM: Why a cook?
I didn't have any choice at my time. I worked in the farm from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and when I was11 years old I started my apprenticeship in Toulouse.
KM: At what point though did you realise that cooking could be more than just eating?
13 - 14 right at the time when I started. It was special for me it was deliverance, it was freedom, and I was working for the best chefs. My master was Mons. Pugeol in Toulouse, then Mons Boucher in Evian and Ma Mounia market, Mons. Rocheber in Vitell. I have worked with all the best, Roger Verge, I opened a Ritz in Lisbon, then I went to Bermuda and I went to New York in 1962.
KM: What was New York like in 1962?
It was very different. At the time we didn't have the produce that we have available now. Now you are able to find anything you want, any type of mushroom, truffles, creams, vegetables, fish, it is a very big, big change.
KM: When you first got here, could you practice the cooking which you had learnt?
My cooking is old fashion cooking, very classic. Then of course the cooking change and you have to adjust with the times.
KM: Have you changed your style of cookin
We still make some classic dishes, but we make them lighter. We don't use flour anymore like we used to.
KM: You don't do the reduction?
We still do the reduction but differently. We make our big stock very light.
KM: How do you explain to a French chef in France what is Haute Cuisine in America?
You have more choice.
KM: Oh I see it is more a matter of choice.
When you go to the market there are so many things, by the time we get there, there are a few things that we cannot import them, some fish for example American's won't eat, otherwise we have all the produce that is available from France, so we are able to do the same thing, more or less.
New York is like Paris but all over America they are improving and they are changing because all those chefs that work here and learnt here they go to Chicago, or San Francisco, of San Diego - all over.
KM: When you are cooking what are you trying to do, what is your essence of your cooking and how do you create a dish?
When I do something I never do it the same way, depending what it is - but it is how you finish it right is the key. Don't mix too many herbs and keep it simple and this will keep it powerful and light.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE:Jean-Jacques Rachou, La Cote Restaurant, [New York]