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Meet Philippe Mille, HEG programme consultant

©David Truillard
Philippe Mille, One of the Best Craftsmen in France (Meilleur Ouvrier de France - MOF) and Chef of two Michelin-starred Le Parc au Domaine Les Crayères restaurant in Reims, showcases a varied cuisine which highlights Champagne’s terroir and artisans. A consultant on the Advanced Studies in Gastronomy (HEG) programme, for which the next intake will take place in June, he talks about his vision of gastronomy, which he wants to transmit to the students. 

You are incredibly committed to using products from the terroir. Could you tell us a little more about this?

Today, the product has a very special role in my cuisine but so does the human element: I enjoy working with both the product and the producer. One cannot exist without the other. Sharing, exchanging ideas, and evolving together, results in a unique product with which to delight our customers. This is all the easier when working with small producers who are close to the restaurant. 

What inspires your cuisine?

Raw materials frequently act as a guide for the products I employ. They are the centrepiece of any dish. My main inspiration for colours and aesthetics when plating comes from art or architecture. A stained-glass window discovered during a visit, a painting at an exhibition… As far as textures are concerned, I often find inspiration in craftmanship. A cooper, for example, inspired me to cook fish on a stave and similarly, a metalworker inspired me to cook asparagus in a furnace.

How committed are you to passing on your knowledge to future generations?

During my career, I have mainly worked alongside Chefs who have been awarded the title One of the Best Craftsmen in France (Meilleur Ouvrier de France - MOF). Beyond the competition and its prestige, it is a title which represents strong values: passing on knowledge and sharing. It is now my job to uphold these values and to inspire the next generation to commit to a profession about which I am extremely passionate. 

What vision of cuisine do you want to transmit to the students?

I am committed to breaking down pre-conceived ideas about our profession. It is essential in cuisine to be open-minded and keen to provide pleasure to others. It is a very rewarding job, devoid of routine, in which you are free to create your own unique world, thanks to your personality.   

Sustainable development is increasingly important in the restaurant industry. In what ways can it be seen in your cuisine?

Today, we favour short supply chains, thanks to local producers. We work with most of them to reduce the amount of cardboard, replacing it with reusable crates. We also reprocess our organic waste, thanks to compost which is used in the vegetable garden at the Domaine Les Crayères. In the kitchen, we are all very careful about how much water and energy we consume, and we have managed to cut back considerably thanks to the efforts of the whole team.