Ask the Chef – Emmanuel Renaut
In the run-up to “LINK” we have spoken to Emmanuel Renaut about his cooking stlye, cook books and his personal connection to Germany.
- Emmanuel, you’re Chef de Cuisine at the *** Michelin Restaurant Flocons de Sel. Where does your inspiration for new recipes come from?
Usually straight from nature and from the mountains. But I also get a lot of ideas from my team. We often discuss the standard of the produce, whether it’s from here or abroad. Apart from that, I’ve also been known to wake up in the middle of the night with a brilliant idea for a possible dish. When that happens, I write it down straight away.
- The first Michelin Guide was published in 1900 and since then, it’s been seen as the gourmet bible. A three-star award, like yours, is the greatest achievement a chef can have. It is both an honour and a challenge. How have you maintained this high standard since February 2012?
By always displaying that same passion with my young and enthusiastic team. But you have to remain true to yourself and trust your intuitions, listen to your heart and don’t overcomplicate things. Other than that, I try not to let myself be overly influenced by what happens around me. The important thing is to be humble and out of the utmost respect for one’s colleagues, to not compare one’s cooking to their own.
- When did you decide to become a chef?
It was shortly after my time with the Chasseurs Alpins [elite mountain infantry of the French army] and my first experiences at the Hôtel de Crillon in Paris. At that time, I firmly believed that this job would give me everything that I need in life. I can give my creativity free rein and I’m always close to nature thanks to working daily with products that I treat with a great deal of respect.
- What inspired your very personal style of cooking?
The naturalness and richness of Alpine produce around Mont Blanc and Lake Geneva; I’m constantly trying to reflect the beauty of this produce in my dishes.
- You have written two very successful cookbooks to date. What prompted these books? Do we still need cooking tuition?
No, I don’t think so. Today, people know how to cook. But it’s extremely interesting to see how you can make progress even after 10 or 15 years and how your own point of view regarding cooking can change. We never stand still.
- You are known for using regional products in your haute cuisine. What ingredients would never be found in your dishes?
There are two ingredients that are an absolute no-go for me: peppers and cucumbers. I just can’t work with them. I’ve often tried, but they just don’t suit me and my cooking.
- Where does your passion for mushrooms come from?
Since I was a child, I’ve loved being in the forest. There, I’m all on my own without anybody around me. You’re only surrounded by the sounds of the forest and you can listen to and observe nature – and, of course, collect mushrooms. It’s also very exciting working with mushrooms because they have a very mysterious side to them. Ideally, I would incorporate mushrooms in every dish, but, of course, that’s not possible.
- What differentiates restaurant cooking from home cooking?
It’s not the same approach, but the cooking is always the same and even the ingredients are, too. But the most important thing is to cook with enthusiasm, dedication and patience.
- City or mountains? Paris or Megève? How would you decide?
That’s easy for me to answer: definitely the mountains and Megève. I am a nature lover and love peace and quiet and living creatures. Of course, I’m often travelling for work, but I’m always glad each time I’m back home with my family in familiar surroundings.
- How do you relax in your free time?
By just being in nature and breathing in fresh air – hiking, skiing and climbing. I’m also always trying to pass this same enthusiasm onto my children and I take them with me as often as possible. Of course, they will have to decide later which way they want to go, but a degree of balance and tranquillity can’t do any harm and nobody conveys that better than Mother Nature.
- Your career to date is impressive: many best chef awards, three Michelin stars for your restaurant, new openings, book publications, etc. What’s next?
Wait and see… I don’t know and, to be honest, I don’t even want to know. I live in the here and now! I try as much as I can to not let myself be influenced too much by the past and the future.
- What do you associate with Germany? Your wife’s German – does this influence you in any way?
I see some similarities, especially with the south of Germany, which I like, for example, the lakes and mountains. My wife has certainly had an influence on me even if I’m not always aware of it.
- Have you ever tried a Bavarian dish?
Definitely, but I don’t remember it! But I hope that I can do some catching up on that point during LINK at Sofitel Munich Bayerpost.
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