French chef named World's Best Female Chef
Monday 11 April 2011
A French chef already festooned with awards and accolades, including three Michelin stars, has been recognized as World's Best Female Chef.
Anne-Sophie Pic, who helms the century-old restaurant Maison Pic in Valence, France, beat out Elena Arzak of Spain and Nadia Santini of Italy to snag the coveted title, a category introduced for the first time this year from the S . Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurant Awards.
Monday's announcement firmly entrenches Pic - only the fourth woman in history to hold a third Michelin star - as a giant in the gastronomic world, still dominated largely by men.
Decorated with gold-gilded mirrors, plush sofas, a chandelier centerpiece and old black-and-white photos of multi-generational Pic family cooks, the restaurant exudes a hushed elegance that's on par with her cooking, described as soft, feminine and respectful. Frank, distinct tastes, new flavor combinations and respect for each ingredient are some of the tenets of her cooking, she says.
As a fourth-generation chef, Pic , 41, grew up in a Michelin-starred kitchen, dipping her fingers into copper pots of simmering crayfish and sampling the pastry chef's choux à la crème as a girl. The restaurant received its third Michelin star under her grandfather in 1934 for the first time. Since then, all three generations, including her father Jacques Pic, have received three Michelin stars for the restaurant.
After studying business management and working in the luxury goods market in the US and Japan, Pic was drawn back to her family's kitchen where she wanted to indulge in her "real passion."
Menu items include old favorites which serve her father's memory, like Jacques Pic's Sea Bass with Caviar, a "mythical" dish invented in 1971 with 30g of Aquitane caviar. Other menu items include pan-roasted Bresse chicken supreme, yellow lemon marmalade, steamed young chards and razor-shells, with simple juice; farm pigeon, poached with slightly smoked broth peas and little beans "embeurrés" with green anise; and hot Grand Marnier soufflé, with orange supremes and light cream rice pudding. The menu ranges between €90 to €210. The eight-course Collection Pic menu is €330.
Pic was chosen by a panel of 837 voters around the world that included food critics, journalists, chefs and restaurateurs representing 27 different international regions.
She beat Arzak, also a fourth-generation chef, at her San Sebastian restaurant of the same name which specializes in Basque cuisine, and Santini, whose restaurant Dal Pescatore in Italy is also a century old and specializes in seafood.
Pic will be recognized at the S. Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants Awards gala at London's Guildhall, April 18. The award is sponsored by Veuve Clicquot.
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