Daniel Ye arrived in Paris 4 years ago to discover the french "art de vivre". In 2016 he get his Cuisine Diploma, now he focuses on his blog and gastronomic criticism.
Interview with Daniel Ye
What made you want to study cuisine?
Gastronomy and cooking have always been my life passion. Four years ago, I came to Paris for my MBA course at ESSEC. Living in Paris gave me the opportunity to start to appreciate the famous “art de vivre” of French people. This lifestyle is almost the utter opposite side of the Chinese people in the current time, in which we strive all of our efforts to make things happen as fast as possible. After MBA, with my career ambition, I went back to China to become part of that turbulent wave. Long-hours work, no time to cook at home, and even no time to appreciate food in my personal time. Eating became the most basic supply to my physical body, without any pleasure involved. Two years ago, during my business trip to Paris, I had a chance to accompany our guests from China to dine at Le Jules Verne on the Eiffel Tower. Thinking back of all my eating experiences in my life, from Eleven Madison Park in New York to Jean George in Shanghai, from Peking roast duck to a bowl of congee in Hong Kong, what I ate and whether it’s delicious or not at Le Jules Verne has not left any impression on me. However, it was that meal that triggered my aspiration to study cuisine. I think there must be something “je ne sais quoi” out there within that meal. And I think the charm of French cuisine also involves something “je ne sais quoi”. Maybe it’s the ambiance from the furniture and decos conceived by a talented interior designer, or one layer of flavour in one dish that tasted familiar and brought you back to your childhood, or even the unexpected combination of ingredients that surprised you. I wanted to slow down my life pace to explore more about such “je ne sais quoi”, and I had a strong belief that I would find the ultimate happiness in my life. It’s not about who you are in the company, not about how much money you earn. It’s about what you do for what you love, or who you love.
I think the charm of French cuisine also involves something “je ne sais quoi”.
What is your favourite memory from your adventure at Le Cordon Bleu Institute in Paris?
“Cuisine is about sharing. Sharing knowledge is wonderful.” This was what Chef Marc Vaca shared with us in the first class. He is my favourite chef instructor in my course.
Could you tell us briefly about your career path?
I had been working in the luxury industry for more than ten years. I was the PR Director for Tiffany in China before studying cuisine at Le Cordon Bleu. In 2013 I got my MBA diploma from ESEEC, the top business school in France. The luxury experience taught me the importance of story-telling. A perfect dish as a work of art has to be full of stories, no matter the story of the ingredients, or the story of the chef who cooked it.
What are you doing now?
I am finishing my course in three weeks. During the course, I am running my blog “ChicFrance” on WeChat, the largest Chinese social media platform, with twice-a-week updates. It was launched in November 2015, with the aim of providing the most authentic, inspiring, fun information to the Chinese. On Sundays I push posts in the series of “My Bon Time in Paris” with the pen name Daniel Child (because of Julia Child, one of my key inspirations), which is all about French cuisine.
What advice would you give to future cuisine students?
Techniques are important. But curiosity and thirst for knowledge are also important to be a great chef in the contemporary context.
What are your plans for the future?
I will be putting my efforts on my blogging and restaurant critics after graduation. I will be living in Paris for quite a while for sure. Besides providing information about French lifestyle to the Chinese, bringing my understanding on the authentic Chinese cuisine to the westerns is also my passion, because for the French, Chinese food almost equals to the traiteur, which is never a place for me to dine in in Paris.
“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” Said Earnest Hemingway. I was this kind of lucky guy, but I think I am even much luckier, because of my 8-months journey at Le Cordon Bleu. There is nothing better than diving into the culinary world in a culture. Food culture is the ultimate expression of a culture in general.