Pierre Gagnaire: Three Michelin Stars & No Signs of Slowing Down
11 February 2016
Exclusive Interview with Pierre Gagnaire
“The day I will say to myself that I am at the top, I will stop cooking. You need to carry on aiming for the best, that’s your energy. For you, for the young chefs who are working with you and for the clients. The future is today, and my ambitions are still the same ones as when I started: To last...”
After spending 40 years as one of the most respected chefs in the business… people could be forgiven for thinking that Pierre Gagnaire is just being modest. But speak to him, and you know he means every word passionately. In fact, it is the constant evolution of his art that keeps him both relevant, and at the forefront of world gastronomy.
Chef Gagnaire’s long career started in St Etienne, where he began collecting the first of his Michelin Stars; winning three before relocating to Paris in 1996 and opening his eponymous Pierre Gagnaire restaurant at the luxury Hotel Balzac. In record time, this famous flagship restaurant was awarded its own three Michelin Stars… and quickly became recognised as the standard bearer for exquisite fusion cuisine the world over.
The ethos behind Pierre Gagnaire’s cuisine is passionately described as being, “Tourné vers demain mais soucieux d'hier,” (Facing tomorrow but respectful of yesterday) and it is this combination of embracing the future, whilst giving a hearty nod to the past, that delivers the innovation, passion and quality which is so closely associated with the master chef. Despite all this, Pierre Gagnaire insists on keeping everything simple and letting his cooking do the talking.
“I can’t really say that I have a vision. I work hard in order for the clients to have a real experience, and for it to be a new one each time they come, I do not have signature dishes. I also like to work with seasonal products.”
It is the complete dedication to his craft that sets Gagnaire apart. He will never be happy with his success… because there is always something new to achieve, and a new goal to strive for. In the last fifteen years, the renowned chef has seen his brand expand into an empire stretching from London to Dubai, and Las Vegas to Tokyo. Alongside the venture at Hotel Balzac, Pierre Gagnaire is the culinary brains behind: Sketch in London, Gaya in Paris, Pierre Gagnaire Pour les Airelles in Courchevel, Twist at the Manderin Oriental in Las Vegas, Pierre Gagnaire A Seoul in Seoul, Reflets in Dubai, Pierre Gagnaire - Tokyo in Tokyo, Les Menus in Moscow and Pierre in Hong Kong. After the services are done, Gagnaire likes nothing better than to put a plate of food together and reflect. This is the moment that he most enjoys.
“I love having the opportunity to eat] alone on one side of my restaurants once the clients have finished their plates and have left happy! It’s the same for artists after the show, that’s the only moment you can relax before the next day, when you have to give your best again and again.”
And it’s not just the ability to give his best time and again that brings the chef recognition. Pierre Gagnaire was one of the first members of the culinary world to embrace the idea of food as art… an outlook that enables him to carry on evolving his craft with an expert and distinctive touch (ever modest, Gagnaire has always been careful to highlight the distinction between being artistic and being an artist). However, despite all the worldwide acclaim and success his methods bring him, it’s definitely the simple – but vitally important – things that keeps his ideas fresh… and his passion alive.
“My cooking and creativity is inspired by] going to the market, talking with clients and my kitchen team, reading and also practising sport because you empty your head and come up with new ideas...”
Amazingly, after four decades in the business, Pierre Gagnaire has somehow managed to remain on the cutting edge of contemporary cuisine, and continues to draw worldwide acclaim from critics, customers and leading chefs. His dedication to the craft and the quality of his food have ensured that the tables in all of his restaurants are never empty. And, as you’d expect from a man who has somehow managed to remain down to earth and humble amidst all the acclaim, he simply attributes his success to:
“Honesty, hard work, sincerity, and a little bit of talent.”
Pierre Gagnaire at Hotel Balzac: A Flagship to be Proud Of
Gagnaire’s dishes begin with spontaneity and instinct… before being honed within his tried and trusted boundaries of careful preliminary work, practice, then perfection. The result: A genius harmony of creativity and well balanced flavours.
From creation to the final cooking process, Gagnaire expertly crafts and shapes his dishes every step of the way. It is why his three Michelin starred restaurant at the Hotel Balzac remains one of the places to dine when in Paris… and why the restaurant’s carefully prepared menu is celebrated by gourmets, chefs and food enthusiasts the world over.
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