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Pierre Gagnaire Features in the Latest Series of the Hairy Bikers

13 November 2016


World-Famous Chef Showcases Culinary Expertise in his Flagship Restaurant at Hotel Balzac on Popular BBC Programme

Si King and Dave Myers are sampling Cou Cou de Rennes at a white linen covered table in Pierre Gagnaire’s flagship restaurant in Paris’ 8th Arrondissement. The internationally renowned chef approaches, shakes their hands and gleefully asks “…it’s nice eh?”

A spotlight focuses on their meticulously presented plates of contemporary French cuisine; the succulent chicken sitting amongst thin slices of apple, garlic, Girolle mushrooms and corn. The duo, also known as the Hairy Bikers, are visibly impressed by the dish, and, as the conversation between the three cooks continues, even more so by the chef who created it.

Pierre Gagnaire & The Hairy Bikers

Filming for their latest BBC series ‘Chicken & Egg’, the pair have sought to taste the famous Cou Cou de Rennes, and in the process, they’re gaining further insight into one of the world’s most renowned chefs. The triple Michelin Starred Gagnaire was the natural choice to prepare the dish; one of the first chefs in France to champion the breed back in 1992, while also boasting an international reputation for creating innovative, fusion cooking and modern French cuisine.

From the outside, it may appear that the two bikers and a chef who was titled the ‘Best Chef in the World’ last year by Le Chef, exist in two very different culinary worlds. Gagnaire cutting his teeth in leading restaurants since age 14, while, before shooting to fame in 2006 with the launch of their cooking and travel programmes for the BBC, King and Myers worked as a locations manager for television and film and a make-up artist respectively.

However, as the cameras roll, their shared qualities begin to emerge. A passion for quality produce, great food and working towards a greater understanding of the history and meaning behind what we eat begin to become apparent… while their down-to-earth warmth, humility and infectious sense of humour shine through.

Three Michelin-Starred Pierre Gagnaire

While preparing the dish, Gagnaire is filmed scattering cloves of garlic, sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary, lemon zest, creamy butter and shallots around the Cou Cou de Rennes as it sits within a large cast iron cooking pot. Tapping into his deep knowledge of ingredients, he breathes in the scent of blueberry leaves and scatters them in with plump berries; an unusual but not remarkable addition considering Gagnaire’s background.

The chef has dedicated his professional life to understanding ‘cooking’s raw material’, building up a ‘personal sensory world’ to refer back to when creating dishes for his 13 international restaurants. Travelling the world has played a key part in this process, introducing his palette to authentic flavours and the highest quality ingredients in destinations such as Vietnam, Niger and Acapulco.

However, his roots remain firmly in traditional French cookery; reflected in his mantra of "tourné vers demain mais soucieux d'hier", “facing tomorrow but respectful of yesterday”. An approach that combines his exotic discoveries with the skills he learnt from the ‘Mères Lyonnaises’, the ‘Mothers of Lyon’. These talented female cooks have passed down their skills to generation-after-generation, and continue to inspire gourmet cooking in France.

Hairy Bikers ‘Chicken & Egg’ Series

The story of the ‘Mères Lyonnaises’ is infact so influential that the Hairy Bikers had already visited Lyon to begin the episode they’re filming, which sees the adventurous cooks travelling the length and breadth of France in search of unique breeds, exploring the history of French gastronomy and showcasing traditional cooking styles with a twist.

Our five-star hotel, home to Gagnaire’s flagship restaurant, is just one of many stops during the six part series that sees them bike across four continents to discover the world’s most delicious chicken and egg recipes, and the culinary significance behind these ingredients. With over 15 series and 17 books to date, their latest culinary escapades will undoubtedly attract millions of viewers, eager to learn about their adventures.

As they explore each ingredient, dish and tradition on and off the screen, history and cultural relevance behind what we eat is a driving force for both the Hairy Bikers and Pierre Gagnaire. This respect runs particularly deeply for Gagnaire, who when posed with the question of which chicken he prefers between the Bresse and Cou Cou de Rennes, answers directly but with his trademark sense of humour; “you’re like that in England, we’re not like that in France, what is the best? Number one, number two, non… it’s good, it’s not good”.

Whether you choose to learn about the finest French flavours by sampling three Michelin Starred dishes in an elegant Parisian restaurant… or by watching the latest escapades of two national treasures on television from the comfort of your lounge, a deep passion for food, its history and its future will undoubtedly shine through and leave a lasting impression this autumn.

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