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Chris Galvin: The Michelin-starred chef on how he fell in love with French fine dining


My earliest food memory

Driving through Lyon with my mum and dad in 1965, when I was eight. We'd stop at the many Les Routiers [road-side restaurants] along the way, and what struck me was that they were light-years ahead of our own awful motorway restaurants. I remember eating blanquette de veau, a white-wine veal stew; lots of creaminess, and it felt really grown-up and exotic.

My favourite restaurant

Le Gavroche; those Roux brothers have done so much for British gastronomy and I still remember a meal I had there 14 years ago, when I got my first Michelin star. For the main course I had a carved saddle of lamb, but rather then just put it on a plate, they brought it out on a beautiful wooden trolley, garnished with artichokes, fondant potatoes and confit tomatoes, then they carved the lamb in front of you.

My favourite cookbook

Cuisine Gourmande by the French chef Michel Guérard. I grew up in Romford and when Terence Conran opened a Habitat there when I was 16, I'd go and visit. It's where I saw that book, which his wife had translated into English. I still love the duck-liver-and-raisin parfait; it has an ethereal taste, with the slight meatiness paired with the fruitiness of raisin and cognac.

My desert-island dish

A nice piece of Angus beef on the bone. There might just be some driftwood around to grill it on. All you'd need is a bit of butter and some sea salt.

The weirdest thing I've ever eaten

Surströmming – soured herring from northern Sweden. The fish are fermented and putrefied so when I punctured the tin, I was gagging from the sulphurous smell. It tastes like a ripe Munster cheese.

My guilty pleasure

Sneaking a bit of bread from the bread basket and keeping it for my main meal, so I can scrape up the juices left on, say, a plate of roast chicken. It's something my granddad used to do, though I'm not sure if it's acceptable table manners these days.

Chris Galvin, 54, is a Michelin-starred chef and co-owner of seven family-run restaurants. The Galvin Restaurants Festival of Food & Drink will be held in each of the restaurants from 13 to 19 May. For more: galvinrestaurants.com