Masterchef S01 ep6: Dominique Bouchet, Hotel Le Crillon Restaurant, [Paris]

Interview with Dominique Bouchet

I don't consider Robuchon a genius. Looking back, I think that he had such a rigor and will to be the best that he was asking the extreme from his cooks, it was horrendous. I remember crying while working and that some cooks broke down and left. I stayed 5 years maybe because of my pride but I said to myself: 'No I won't break, I will stay.' He was so hard, it was inhuman, it was horrible. You really had to have faith and to love your work to stay with him. I think this is why he won in the end This is why he became the Great Chef 'Joel Robuchon'.


 

 

4.04
KM: What is L'Ambassadeur?

4.06
L' Ambassadeur is at the pinnacle of what is called The French Art de Vivre -
the French Art of Living.

4.16
KM: Why did you become a chef?

4.19
I was only 8 years old when something just clicked; I really can't explain what
triggered this desire. I always wanted to cook, even though I also dreamt of
being the captain of an aircraft carrier. Finally, when my dream came true, I
discovered that being a chef in a palace hotel is as complicated as being the
captain of a ship.

4.42
I think the passion to become a great chef, happened very early for me, as I
started to work in a kitchen at the age of 13. Before I became an apprentice, I
enjoyed the competitive nature of sports and revelled in football . At 19, I
joined the army and studied at the Petty Officer School and it was clear to me
that I preferred to give orders, rather than receive orders.

5.12
KM: What was the magic about working in a kitchen for you?

Jewellery Theatre Carravaggio

5.17
The first stage of learning to cook - being an apprentice, was very important for
me. I entered my apprenticeship in 1966, and in my first 3 years, I was quite
lucky to learn from a very good chef. He was not a celebrity Chef but an
excellent teacher. Not only was he an extremely good cook but he was also a
very good human being. He embellished the education that my parents begun
and launched my career as a serious Chef.

5.44
He emphasized what my parents had taught me - Rigor, honesty, precision,
punctuality and politeness are essential if you want to become a great chef.
He was also responsible for transferring me from my apprenticeship in regional
France to Paris for the next stage of my culinary career. He recommended me
to another chef, whose name was oddly-enough, Napoleon. This chef was very
experienced, and still working at the age of 75 years old.

6.17
Napoleon took me under his wing and taught me his interpretation of cooking,
and showed me to his secret techniques but always treating me in a very
human way. For a young cook of my age, it was very important to me to be
guided by a Master chef, a man of knowledge and wisdom. The relationship of
trust that develops between Master and pupil is very important and cannot be
deceived. That is how we as young cooks evolve - step by step. After
spending 3 years with Napoleon, he organised for me to go to work with
Robuchon. And that's when I met Joel Robuchon.

7.11
My first job was the opening of the Hotel Concorde Lafayette in 1974,
Robuchon's first important job as a chef, in his early days before he received
his first Michelin star. This is where he spotted my talent and put me in charge
of the sauces and then quickly made me his sous-chef. By 22 years of age, I
was his assistant. This is where I learned about banquets, cooking for many
different restaurants at the same time, cooking in a brigade and learning how
to run a hotel kitchen.

 

7.46
KM: What was special about Robuchon?

7.53
I don't consider Robuchon a genius, not at all. Looking back, I think that he
had such vigour and such a will to be the best that he was asking the extreme
from his cooks, it was horrendous. I remember crying while working and that
some cooks broke down and left.

Jewellery Theatre Carravaggio

8.17
I stayed 5 years maybe because of my pride but I said to myself: " No I won't
brake, I will stay." He was so hard, it was inhuman, it was horrible. You really
had to have faith and to love your work to stay with him. I think this is why he
won in the end. This is why he became the Great Chef 'Joel Robuchon'.

8.51
When I first meet him he was producing hotel food, a cuisine that is not very
interesting. But then he had a breakthrough and was inspired to venture out to
seek other types of cuisine. He really analysed them. His ensuing style was
a marriage of: exactitude; demand; rigour; perseverance and curiosity to see
what is happening elsewhere. After a few years it brought results, it was very
in depth work.

9.25
He was very good in his role of chef. Even while very young I rarely saw him in
the kitchen working, he was good at giving orders, he was there to organise.
He made us compete in contests which we had to win for him. If we didn't win
we were punished and we couldn't ask for anything, we didn't get any reward...
nothing.

9.52
KM: How did he know how to bring what was inside you out?


Jewellery Theatre Elements

10.03
He could straight away understand, discern in a chef, in an individual what
were his qualities and how to best use them. He was an excellent manager of
the human resource, that was his strength.

10.20
KM: When you left Robuchon and went to Tour d’Argent was it very difficult
for you in the kitchen?

10.28
That's a very long story... In 1981, when the Michelin guide threatened Mr
Terraille with losing their third star unless he made profound changes to his
menu, he immediately rang Joel Robuchon to ask him if he knew of a good
chef. I had the reputation of being somebody with character, somebody that
didn’t let anyone walk all over him. When I arrived at the Tour d'Argent it was
to make profound changes, but after 3 months I found I was at war with Mr
Terraille.

11.01
I told him: "I am not a duck chef!" "If I am here only to cook duck, I leave,
please let me get on with my job!" After that big argument he understood
that he should let me do what I had to do and he totally changed his attitude.
I nearly struck all duck off the menu and people begun to speak positively
again about the cuisine of the Tour d'Argent.

Jewellery Theatre Fairytales

11.30
KM: What is the meaning of the food here, what is the concept?

11.39
I like to cook what I like to eat. I cook for myself before anybody else. When I
like an ingredient, I start with a way of cooking it, define its qualities, and after
that adapt it to suit the style of the Ambassadeur.

12.00
I have many anecdotes but only a few that I can share with you. For example
it was very amusing for me recently when we received a request for popcorn
from a guest. At first we thought they were kidding until we found out it was the
popstar – Madonna.

OFFICIAL WEBSITE:Dominique Boucher, Hotel Le Crillon Restaurant, [Paris]