Karl Lash­ford

“With a star, I couldn’t do what I re­ally wanted to do. I’d have to do stuff that fits into the box of the Miche­lin Guide”

Living France - - Lifestyle - re­lais­demire­poix.com

Gor­don Ram­say made culi­nary his­tory in Fe­bru­ary, when he be­came the first Bri­tish chef in France to win two Miche­lin stars for his Bordeaux-based Le Pres­soir d’Ar­gent. But he is not the only chef from the UK to make waves in the elite world of French gas­tron­omy.

Karl Lash­ford’s culi­nary ca­reer be­gan in Stour­port-on-Sev­ern, at the knees of his grand­moth­ers. “They were both cooks at schools and just to keep out of trou­ble, we used to go and spend a bit of time with them,” he says.

The 48-year-old chef re­called cy­cling more than seven miles to work in a “quite nice ho­tel” as a teenager, as he fol­lowed the pas­sion that would be­come his ca­reer.

While study­ing, Karl also worked part-time in a kitchen, where he loved the team spirit, and was promptly handed the chance of a life­time.

“A friend of a friend knew the Roux brothers were look­ing for some­body, so I got a three-day stage at the Wa­ter­side Inn, Bray. I fin­ished on the Sun­day, had a phone call Mon­day morn­ing at 9 o’clock of­fer­ing me a job at Gavvers in Lower Sloane Street, which is where they first started Le Gavroche, and they moved it to Park Lane,” re­mem­bers Karl.

Karl’s stint at Le Gavroche saw him work along­side Gor­don Ram­say: “I could see he was way above me but I was catch­ing him up,” Karl said, but he and wife Emma were set on the idea of mov­ing to France. “We came on our hon­ey­moon, just to find some­where to live, and we said ‘okay, we’ve both done Lon­don, where do we want to go?’.”

They set­tled on Mire­poix, near the bor­der be­tween Ariège and Aude, where they took over what used to be a four-star Re­lais & Châteaux ho­tel. “The qual­ity of pro­duce where we are at the mo­ment is amaz­ing, sup­pli­ers are fan­tas­tic,” says Karl. “The mar­ket in the square, which is about 200 me­tres from our front door, sells beef, veal and chicken. I got some as­para­gus that was picked at 6 o’clock this morn­ing and now it’s ready to use for lunch.”

While the re­cep­tion from lo­cals has been pos­i­tive, Karl says it doesn’t come easy. “I have to work harder be­cause I’m the only English per­son in the vil­lage. Peo­ple come in and ask if I’m French or have French grand­par­ents, then ask why I cook so well. That’s the men­tal­ity, but to me it doesn’t matter. It’s the ex­pe­ri­ence that we try and in­stil through the food.”

While many chefs, both French and English, yearn for a Miche­lin star, Karl isn’t one of them. “Yes it’s an amaz­ing hon­our, but the af­ter­math of that is to lose it. If we got one, I’d want two.

“I love my job – and I’ve been in the in­dus­try a long time. No day is ever the same, no ser­vice is ever the same, prod­ucts are nat­u­ral, they come in dif­fer­ent shapes and sizes, there’s al­ways some­thing to do and take things to that other level.

“With a star, I couldn’t do what I re­ally wanted to do. I’d have to do stuff that fits into the box of the Miche­lin Guide. It’s not some­thing I want to do.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.