Interview : Jérôme Nutile, Meilleur Ouvrier de France 2011
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Earlier this year local chef Jérôme Nutile won the prestigious award of Meilleur Ouvrier de France. L&P Sun meets the two starred Michelin chef at his restaurant, Le Castellas in Collias (Gard).
What made a young boy from
Alès want to become a chef?
My grandparents were bakers and I come from a family that loves eating. But I think I just had a natural passion for cooking which started at a very early age. To succeed as a chef you have to have passion, it’s a hard profession to get into and I was lucky enough to get my ﬁrst break with the Abbaye de Sainte Croix. Back then it was all about who you know and my family knew no one. Nowadays, luckily, it’s more what you know rather than who you know.
Are your roots reﬂected in your style of cooking?
Absolutely, I use a lot of recipes with ingredients from the Cévennes; cèpes, Cévennes onions, trout, pélardon. I aim to make dishes using traditional ingredients but that are more reﬁned and contemporary.
How are you inspired?
I am continually looking to evolve my recipes and methods. My inspiration comes from my past experiences, my contact with my suppliers, from my children, from simply walking in the countryside. In fact, I am constantly thinking of ideas so it could be any time or any place, even while I’m cooking.
Do you have a role model?
If I had to give a role model then it would be Georges Blanc. He was the first French chef to speak English and go to America, he has a vision for a cuisine évolutive, he owns his own restaurant and is his own boss.
What three rules do you have in your kitchen?
I don’t have three I have two! In fact I insist my team work to the highest standard on all fronts and the words I would use are "exigence et rigeur."
What are your faults?
I would say that I am too shy. I am not good at putting myself forward and it is something I have had to learn. In my profession, you have to know how to promote yourself, to approach journalists and market yourself. It’s not something I enjoy doing!
What is your favourite part of the process of creating a dish?
Actually, I like every stage. From meeting the supplier and buying fresh produce, to eventually tasting it. I am very lucky to love what I do!
What is your favourite dish?
I love eating haute cuisine but if I am honest I would say a good couscous or stuffed tomatoes. It’s basic but tasty.
Where do you like to go on a free day?
I very rarely have any free time but when I do I like to spend it with my wife and children. I particularly like going to Les- Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer to see the sea and blow away the cobwebs.
What do you think of Nîmes’ new signature dish, the Crocus Nemosensus?
Oh I haven’t heard about it. Send the recipe and I’ll try it out, perhaps reworked as a mise en bouche. It sounds interesting. (Recipe page 18).
30 Grand’ rue
04 66 22 88 88
What it takes to earn the title Un des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France
The title of Un des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France (shortened to MOF) is a unique award in France and is a contest organized among experts in the same profession.
This award for special abilities is unique in the world. Created in 1924, the candidate is given a certain amount of time and basic materials not only to create a masterpiece, but to do so with a goal of approaching perfection. The chosen method, the organization, the act, the speed, the knowhow and respect for the rules of the trade are judged by a jury just as much as the ﬁnal result. The winning candidates retain their title for life.
This prestigious title is equally recognized by professionals and the greater public in France, particularly among artisan- merchants such as pastry makers, hairdressers, butchers, jewellers, and others whose trades are recognized, particularly those for more luxurious goods. This competition requires months, sometimes years, of preparation. Technical skills, innovation, respect for traditions and other aspects are all practised repeatedly to a level of reﬁnement and excellence, effectiveness and speed to succeed and be crowned by the jury, which makes its decision according to the distribution of points awarded during the entire process. The awarding of medals takes place at the Sorbonne in Paris followed by a ceremony at the Elysée in the presence of the President of the French Republic.
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For the ﬁrst time, our printed version uses videos to bring life to our content and advertising. A new concept, Augmented Reality, brings the paper to life at the click of a button. All you need to do is download the free LAYAR application on your phone or tablet and off you go. Then just follow the instructions over the next pages.
The sun is out, bank holidays are in, we all want to go and explore, although this can sometimes be ruined by the dreaded mistral (p14). But let’s not spoil things. How about a visit to St Jean du Fos (p20) or if you’re feeling more urban, a nice shopping day in Avignon with a healthy tea break (p23) or a visit to an art gallery in Nîmes? (p17) If you’re feeling extra energetic like me, how about entering the Pont du Gard race on 30 June to raise money for a fantastic local charity? Also in this issue, the remarkable story of a simulated space mission by Claire (p18) and a very funny article by Bernice on her pathological inability (or so she says) to learn languages (p22).