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Interview with Pierre Gagnaire, HEG 2022 class patron

With no less than 14 stars in the Michelin Guide, cuisine chef Pierre Gagnaire heads up 13 restaurants across the globe. Voted “Best Michelin-Starred Chef in the World” by his peers in 2015, he is widely recognised for his remarkable inventiveness and attention to detail in the presentation of his dishes.

He has worked with Hervé This, the leading figure in the field of molecular and physical gastronomy, and President of the Teaching Committee of the Advanced Studies in Gastronomy (HEG) programme, for over 20 years. Together, they created the "Science and Cuisine" menu, which was sampled for the first time at the Cercle de l'Académie des Sciences.

As 2022 HEG class
patron, he gives us a few words about this subject.

The HEG class of 2022 students are honoured to have you as class patron, what does this training programme mean to you?

Firstly, it is a huge honour to be class patron for a school which provides such quality teaching, at all levels. 
The structure of the school itself, the quality of the instructors, the legendary discipline of Le Cordon Bleu.

You will be a Guest Chef for the “gastronomic heritage in cuisine” theme, how do you see knowledge transmission in cuisine?

Knowledge transmission can only be successful if the past is respected.
There is no future without solid roots, no future if the knowledge transmitted has not been explained correctly.
More than ever, youthful enthusiasm must go hand in hand with the wisdom and expertise of the older generation. 
But the older generation must also give the intelligence and extraordinary vivacity of the younger generation its due consideration.

How do you see science in cuisine?

Science, which is mainly personified by Hervé This in our profession, enables you to understand, explain, and analyse the processes taking place in a saucepan. 
Knowledge enables you to work with the living matter being used with greater finesse and understanding. 

Why, in your opinion, is it important for cuisine professionals to continue to challenge themselves and to carry on training throughout their career?

This question goes way beyond the field of cuisine; learning is the very essence of mankind; you never reach the top of the mountain (fortunately); however, being curious about what surrounds us on a daily basis enables us to improve whilst teaching us to be modest. 

Hervé This told us about the inventions and experiments that are part of your restaurant concepts, could you tell us more?

Meeting Hervé opened my mind to new ways of imagining my cuisine. 
His enthusiasm and skills allowed us to introduce ways of working to our field which provided us with the opportunity to create new flavours and textures.

A final word to mark the new HEG programme format?

Today, Le Cordon Bleu is one of the most innovative institutions in the gastronomy sector.
Its global network provides incredible opportunities for those who have the chance to study there. 

Photo credit: Stéphane de Bourgies