Gor­don Ram­say’s Miche­lin star man

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY VICTORIA PREVER

Chef Gi­lad Peled heads up a win­ning team at Gor­don Ram­say’s Bordeaux out­post

WE’VE BEEN kvel­ling for Is­raeli chef Gi­lad Peled, chef de cui­sine (head chef ) at Gor­don Ram­say’s Bordeaux restau­rant, La Pressoir d’Ar­gent. The restau­rant — sit­u­ated in the city’s In­ter­con­ti­nen­tal Ho­tel — has been awarded a sec­ond Miche­lin star. The first was be­stowed by the es­teemed French restau­rant guide only four months af­ter it opened and this sec­ond gong has been granted just 17 months in.

The en­try in the 2017 guide states: “Gor­don Ram­say has de­vised an ap­petis­ing menu that shows off the Aquitaine ter­roir and is per­fectly ex­e­cuted by an Is­raeli chef.” Cue more kvel­ling.

Peled spoke to JC Food when he started at the restau­rant in late 2015. I (top right) caught up with him over the phone this week to get his views on the lat­est ac­co­lade.

“Me and my team are re­ally ex­cited. I’m over the moon and so proud of what we’ve done,” he said. “It has al­ways been a dream for me to work in France be­cause of the food cul­ture. It all started here and for me this is the culi­nary coun­try.”

Ram­say is the first English­man to win two stars in France — quite an achieve­ment for the team.

The first per­son Peled shared the news with was his mother. “She was so happy for me. The sec­ond call was to my pro­fes­sional ‘mother’ — my cook­ing men­tor, Clare Smyth.” Smyth is head chef at Gor­don Ram­say at Royal Hospi­tal Road and the first fe­male chef in the UK to hold and re­tain three Miche­lin stars. She was at the helm of Royal Hospi­tal Road when Peled worked there in 2006, af­ter com­plet­ing his Cor­don Bleu train­ing, and has re­mained a huge in­flu­ence on his life.

“She came with me to the awards cer­e­mony, as Gor­don was away film­ing in the US. It was when I cooked with her at Royal Hospi­tal Road that my eyes were opened to the pas­sion and ded­i­ca­tion she and her team had. The ad­ven­ture in Bordeaux has been with her and she’s been a huge sup­port.”

Peled said Ram­say was also ex­cited about the achieve­ment. Al­though he could not be present in the kitchen reg­u­larly, he was heav­ily in­volved in the run­ning of Le Pressoir. “He’s a busy guy as he now has 35 restaurants. He does visit though, and emails; Chef Clare also comes here of­ten and I visit Lon­don, so there is a lot of con­tact. He was re­cently here to cel­e­brate our one year an­niver­sary. There is a film on YouTube about us.”

Al­though un­der­stand­ably proud of this sec­ond Miche­lin star, for him, it’s not just about awards but about his guests. “Be­fore we got the star we were al­ready pop­u­lar. So much so, that it can be a wait of more than a month for a ta­ble — par­tic­u­larly at busier times of year. To me, that is also a sign that we are go­ing in the right direc­tion.”

Peled is par­tic­u­larly proud of the re­la­tion­ships he and the team have built with lo­cal sup­pli­ers.

“I’m an Is­raeli and Gor­don is Scot­tish, so it’s won­der­ful that small, lo­cal French pro­duc­ers are com­ing to us with their amaz­ing foods. We vis­ited those pro­duc­ers one by one choos­ing the ex­cep­tional prod­ucts.”

“When we found our main veg­etable sup­pli­ers we had a two-hour visit planned. It was so fas­ci­nat­ing we stayed for nearly seven hours, meet­ing their fam­ily and tast­ing their pro­duce.

“The grow­ers are two for­mer pro­fes­sion­als — an en­gi­neer and a teacher — who changed their lives to farm. We now work closely with them. They grow ex­actly what we need and we rely on each other.”

He has ded­i­cated a reg­u­lar amuse bouche to them, us­ing their pro­duce. “It changes each sea­son. In win­ter, we make an éc­ume [foam] of cheese with hazel­nuts and black truf­fle as a mari­nade for the baby veg­eta­bles. In spring, we’ll pre­pare the baby veg with al­monds and le­mons and a fresh, young goat’s cheese.”

What does he see for the fu­ture? “We’ve had con­fir­ma­tion that what we’re do­ing is good but we won’t be rest­ing on our lau­rels. I also feel that we have some re­spon­si­bil­ity for con­tin­u­ing to ed­u­cate our team, the fu­ture gen­er­a­tions of cook­ing. I feel so lucky to be part of some­thing big, es­pe­cially in this coun­try of gas­tron­omy.”

De­spite his na­tive coun­try’s grow­ing gourmet rep­utaion, he’s not about to re­turn to Is­rael. “I go twice year to see friends and fam­ily and one day I’ll go back. But it’s not the right time now. In Is­rael, you have fan­tas­tic food and great prod­ucts but what I’m do­ing now doesn’t have the au­di­ence there. Peo­ple aren’t look­ing for French food or fine din­ing there.”

www.gor­don­ram­sayrestau­rants.com Ar­ca­chon sole with young leek, black truf­fle, dux­elles and vin jaune

PHOTO: © GRADISKI IN­TER­CON­TI­NEN­TAL BORDEAUX LE GRAND HO­TEL

Ar­ca­chon sole with pota­toes and black truf­fle. La Pressoir d’Ar­gent’s five star din­ing room

Ram­say and Peled make a win­ning team

PHOTO: JULIEN FAURE IN­TER­CON­TI­NEN­TAL BORDDEAUX LE G

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