My Life in Food: Pierre Gagnaire

'Cooking is serious, but it's not war. The first principle should be kindness'

Born into a family of restaurateurs, Gagnaire has spent his 40-year career collecting Michelin stars. His first star came when he was just 26 at his family's restaurant in St Etienne, Le Clos Fleury. He now has 12 restaurants, in places from Seoul to Saint-Tropez, and holds 12 Michelin stars. His restaurant in London, Sketch, which he co-founded with Mourad Mazouz, was awarded a second star in the latest Michelin guide.

What are your most and least used pieces of kitchen kit?

It's the knife, always the knife. The one I use most is a small, very beautiful and very practical one, which I can do lots with from shallots to onions to mushrooms. Everyone in the kitchen has their own knives, especially in France. Having one's own knife is still very important in French kitchens.

My least used is the freezer. We have one, but we use it very rarely, because we try to use fresh produce every day. In Paris we have the Rungis and other an extraordinary markets, so in the morning we can just go and buy what is there.

If you only had €10 to spend on food, where would you spend it and on what?

I would start with some cèpes mushrooms, which are in season, and which I would fry in a little bit of oil. And maybe some chestnuts and a piece of pork belly. And perhaps a single fine oyster. I would also like a small amount of my favourite cheese, stichelton, and some figs, which are fantastic at the moment, which I would cook with a dash of whisky and a tiny bit of honey.

What do you eat for comfort?

For comfort, fruit. Now we're in winter, oranges, which I adore. A square of chocolate at five o'clock, always around then. I adore pain grillé (toast), with a little bit of butter, it's super. Otherwise, my other comfort foods are oysters and jambon cru and cheese, such as an aged comté or cantal.

What is your desert island recipe?

Have I made a fire on the island? First I would try to understand the nature on the island and try cooking something as simple as that. I'd look for fish, fruits and vegetables, maybe a herb. But I'd have to have fire first.

What is your favourite restaurant?

I don't have a favourite restaurant, it's difficult, because there are so many good ones in the world. When I'm in London I love Scotts, I like Cecconis and Momo's a lot. I like Le Gavroche. It's very old-fashioned – it's superb. In Spain there are some extraordinary restaurants in the Basque region, even some of the more modest ones. I was in San Sebastien recently and I found this amazing restaurant, small, and had been in the family for five generations – the bricks and mortar are the same. It was called Zuberoa, very modest but brilliant. So it depends on the moment.

What is your favourite cookbook?

It's Escoffier. There's lots of knowledge in there, and it's generally extraordinary. It's one of the most fundamental books to French cuisine, in fact the world, because as you know – forgive me because you're English – but we taught the world a lot!

Who taught you about food?

I didn't have a master or a teacher, but I had people who inspired me. The people who inspired me have been Alain Chapel and the Swiss chef Frédy Girardet, but I didn't work with them. There was one man, not very well known, whom I did work with: Michel Lorrin. He was very modest but he cooked very well and cooked with lots of care, tenderness and love. I'd never seen anyone cook with love before. And the word "love" is my guide, because although cooking can be difficult and while it's serious – it's not war. Well sometimes, it's like war – it can be very stressful. But the first principle should be kindness.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Old Royal Naval College: ORNC Visitor Experience Volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Sales Assistant

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This airport parking organisation are looking...

    Recruitment Genius: PCV Bus Drivers

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Do you enjoy bus driving and are looking for ...

    Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - York

    £18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - Y...

    Day In a Page

    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project