Af­ter hours

Anne-So­phie Pic on her ear­li­est food mem­o­ries and Bri­tain’s best pro­duce

Food and Travel (UK) - - Contents - 130

What’s your ear­li­est food mem­ory? Dur­ing my child­hood, we lived in an apart­ment right next to my fa­ther’s restau­rant [Mai­son Pic] in Va­lence. As you walked out you had to go through the kitchens and I can re­mem­ber the smell of his cray­fish gratin com­ing fresh out of the oven.

Who are your food heroes? First, my fa­ther – he taught me how to taste. Michel Bras rev­o­lu­tionised French cui­sine. He uses lots of veg­eta­bles, which I’m drawn to. I also ad­mire Pierre Gag­naire and Jean-François Piège, who was born in my home­town.

What stands out about where you’re from in France? Va­lence is close to Lyon and Avi­gnon. We are be­tween but­ter and olive oil coun­try, which makes it in­ter­est­ing in terms of food. Cook­ing with sea­sonal pro­duce is im­por­tant to me and we have spe­cial va­ri­eties of apri­cots, peaches and white as­para­gus. L’Oiseau sur sa branche in Saoû is my favourite lo­cal restau­rant. You have restau­rants in Paris and Lau­sanne, any hot tips?

In Paris, try Chris­tian Le Squer at Le Cinq; he has just won his third star. Make sure you take home some of Christophe Micha­lak and Pierre Hermé’s de­li­cious pas­tries and cakes. In Lau­sanne there are some won­der­ful ho­tels. It’s not a big city and the stan­dard is high – Lau­sanne Palace is ut­terly beau­ti­ful. Where have you trav­elled to re­cently? I get a lot of in­gre­di­ents from Cor­sica. I go sev­eral times a year and stay near Por­toVec­chio. I was re­cently in Shang­hai and I dis­cov­ered lots about Chi­nese tea, oolang in par­tic­u­lar. I want to go to Ja­pan again.

I’m fas­ci­nated by the pro­duce. I’ve been us­ing lots of matcha re­cently and some­times I make my own dashi à la Française. What other in­gre­di­ents are you work­ing with?

I like to use fer­mented food and I like mak­ing per­fumed oils and in­fused but­ters to add flavour. I also use cof­fee, cho­co­late beans and sake. I’m in­trigued by the pine buds and white chamomile that I dis­cov­ered when I was in Switzer­land.

Where does your style fit in with tra­di­tional French cui­sine? In France to­day you have sev­eral cook­ing trends, from tra­di­tional pot-au-feu (beef stew) to very mod­ern. I work hard at cre­at­ing fan­tas­tic sauces. Tra­di­tion­ally they are rather heavy in France, so I’ve tried to de­velop lighter, more con­tem­po­rary ver­sions with­out cream that are more like bouil­lon or con­sommé.

What do you cook at the week­ends? When I cook at home

I go for very sim­ple dishes made with good pro­duce, like roast chicken and tar­ragon served with potato mous­se­line.

How do you find the din­ing scene in the UK? In­cred­i­ble. There’s so much choice. I’m learn­ing a lot about Bri­tish pro­duce and I’m very im­pressed by it. I think the cream in Great Bri­tain is bet­ter than in France, but don’t tell any­one back home.

Pic’s new restau­rant, La Dame de Pic, is now open in the Four Seasons Lon­don at Ten Trin­ity Square. ladamede­piclon­don.co.uk

Clock­wise from be­low: Jean-François Piège; his din­ing room; grati­nated onions at Le Cinq; over­look­ing Lau­sanne

Clock­wise from left: Pic’s Scot­tish lan­gous­tine; Anne-So­phie; the Lou­vre in Paris; el­e­gant beet­root and cof­fee dish at La Dame de Pic; Le Cinq restau­rant in Paris

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