We met with Chef Philippe Groult, Meilleur Ouvrier de France (Best Craftsmen of France), Assistant Culinary Arts Director and Head of the Cuisine Department at Le Cordon Bleu institute in Paris. In early 2016, Chef Groult joined Le Cordon Bleu Paris’ team after a long and fascinating journey. In the course of the interview, he confided in us where his passion came from, his cuisine memories and talked to us about those who inspire him daily.
Chef Groult portrait
Where did your passion for cuisine, and your desire to make a career out of it, come from?
I became passionate about cuisine during my childhood, the fun-filled atmosphere that surrounded family meals left a lasting impression on me; the enjoyment experienced during the meals we shared as a family every Sunday.
These moments made me want to take up cuisine. Every time somebody asked me “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I replied “Cuisine Chef” and each time the person would say “that is a wonderful job”. The opinion of others encouraged me to take up this profession.
How would you describe your cuisine?
I try to create emotions, something memorable. My cuisine is full of character, I accentuate flavours by concentrating them and by reducing jus. I am also always very careful about where the ingredients come from and how fresh they are.
Which ingredients do you enjoy working with the most?
I enjoy working with game and mushrooms in autumn and winter. I am more likely to cook shellfish and vegetables in spring and summer. I like searing oysters and making sea urchin emulsions, for example.
Which Chefs inspire you on a daily basis?
Jöel Robuchon’s cuisine influences me every day. I love how refined and aesthetically pleasing his dishes are but also how the flavours are spot on. I have worked with him extensively. Daniel Humm, with his original and modern cuisine, also inspires me.
Which recipe or dish gave you a real sense of pride?
I am extremely proud of a recipe I made when I owned my own restaurant, Amphyclès, in Paris. The recipe is for spider crab, which is reassembled in its shell with the picked meat of other spider crabs, to which finely chopped grey shallot and chopped flat-leaf parsley are added. It is served with a sauce made of emulsified crab coral with a soft-coddled egg, olive oil and Espelette pepper.
Do you have a specific memory from the kitchen that you would like to share with us?
I have lots of children and every time I had the opportunity, on a Wednesday and a Saturday, they would come with me to the kitchen: they made dough, worked with different ingredients etc.
What are your favourite dishes?
I love seafood and dishes with mango. I also love duck puff pastry pie and slowly-cooked lentils with pork confit. As far as desserts are concerned, my favourites are flans, custard flan with prunes and pineapple with kirsch.
For you, what are the main qualities needed in order to become a good Chef?
You must enjoy giving pleasure to others but you must also be honest: integrity is essential in terms of product quality. It is also a profession which requires thoroughness, to be self-critical: what I mean by that is not trying to make your workload lighter or simpler just to make life easier. Being passionate and possessing a real love of a job well done are essential. Lastly, it is important to help, support and teach those with whom you work.
Never forget that a good Chef, with diplomas, medals, credentials and who is widely appreciated by all, is nothing without a devoted team and colleagues around them.