Gordon Ramsay’s Michelin star man
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
Arcachon sole with potatoes and black truffle. La Pressoir d’Argent’s five star dining room
Ramsay and Peled make a winning team