After having spent a few wonderful days in France (so do expect a few France related posts), I can now sit down to transcribe my interview with Julien. As I mentioned here, the interview was conducted 90% in French, so I’ll translate it with the most faithful meaning possible. In my first post about Julien, I described him as the most Frenchest French man I have met.
I have known Julien for a few years now. He is a wonderful man with very deep thoughts though with a mischievous smile at the same time. Julien is an artist at heart. One of the ways to enjoy his spare time is with music. Have a peak here into his YouTube channel to enjoy his music. His music is just as miserable as mine, in the poetic sense, but completely different in a modern way. Julien is a big seducer, though I suspect he doesn’t even try to be so…
This interview is about his vision on food and cooking. Julien makes very traditional gourmet French cooking, always with some delightful twist. The presentation of the food is of utmost importance. The attention to detail brings great pleasure. For example, Mr. H. and I have spent the last few New Years Eve dinners with him. Julien cooked of course. He would print out, for each of us, a copy of the menu for that night and set it on the table by each plate. Naturally he wrote them using the most beautiful fonts. Needless to say, his food is delicious.
Enough. Let’s get started.
When did you begin to cook?
I began to cook very young, between the age of 5 – 6. I cooked with Madame Peltier (my mother), who doesn’t really know how to cook. I also cooked with both of my grandmothers.
Who were your biggest inspirations in the kitchen?
Both of my grandmothers inspired me. They cooked tremendously well. I made lots of observations on how they would do things and I understood the mechanism of cooking, such as how to make a mayonnaise, omellete, coq au vin and many other traditional foods. I adore eating. I am a big gourmet. I am intransigent and very demanding on the coordination of flavours.
Another mayor inspiration comes from Joël Robuchon, the greatest chef in the world. He wrote about the food from Tuscany and also about French cuisine.
Cuisine is everything, it’s about the people, the table, the decoration…
How would you define your style of cooking?
Intuitive. I have a problem: I’m very creative, very inspired, very sensitive, and just like a perfumer, I believe that the smell is the organ of the senses. I create techniques for the precise moment and I am incapable of recreating them like I did the first time.
What is your favourite smell?
What is your favourite flavour?
For me the most refined flavour is that of white truffles.
As you know, fusion food is an important aspect of my blog. France is very important in your style of cuisine, but what other countries influence your style? At this point Julien argues that his cuisine is not too French. Mr. H. and I argue back that it is definitely of the most refined and creative French style. Hmm.
On top of my French cuisine I like to explore with different herbs to give it other flavours and styles that may bring reminiscences of food from other countries, such as with the use of coriander or tarragon.
A few days afterwards he did make us a gorgeously smooth chicken curry…
The presentation of your food is always superb. What tips can you give us to create each dish and set the table?
If I had a restaurant, I would want a different plate depending on each dish. The colour is also very important. I think that (too much) red colour should be prohibited in cuisine because it is too strong and indisposes. Red needs to be contrasted, it must be contrasted with another colour such as green.
My tip would be to think like an artist, like a painter that paints a scenery, with natural colours that appear in nature and with contrasts. Think in each detail.
When I truly want to cook something the best I can do, I design my plate like I would plan a map. Before cooking I think about it as part of the preparation. An example of what goes on in my head would be something like this:
Thus he draws it in my notebook:
If you suddenly met the woman of your dreams tomorrow, what would you cook for her as the first romantic meal you were to have together to ensure she will be under your spell?
Something light, floral and full of flavour. I would work, especially, on creating an analogy with love. A cuisine with strong spices with contrast with vegetables and flowers. Something sensual and something that is duality on the plate.
For example I would make a salad with violets with a vinagrette of pepper from Espelette (in French piment d’Espellette, a village in the French Basque Country) and with pepper from Myanmar. Afterwards I would make venison, a wild meat with a musky taste, always with duality, so it will be combined with celery gravy. Everything would be about duality.
The cuisine would need to fill the senses and be profound.
How do you incorporate you style of cuisine with your daily life?
This is a huge frustration…
I have to cook everyday but my tiny kitchen limits me. The truth is I most love to cook for my friends and family. My parents used to get me to cook for their dinner parties.
Is there anything else you wish to add?
Cuisiner ça me rend heureux – cooking makes me happy.
The photos were taken one afternoon in Sitges.
Thank you Julien!