Kitchen encounters: The French chef and cookery writer just wants to have a blast with his friends
My kitchen is where everything happens in our house. My wife and I bought this ruin of a big old stone house in the Ardche about 7 years ago. My sister-in-law an architect redesigned it for us. What do you want? she asked me to which I replied: You know exactly what I want! A kitchen, with a house around it. I make a lot of food I leave the kitchen at work and head straight for the one at home and everyone stands around the hob as I cook. We have big windows and white walls with yellow accents, and other kitchen paraphernalia; lots of shelves and a raw concrete floor which bears all these marks of our daily lives. I like restaurant equipment, but I didnt want to have a restaurant at home; I wanted it to all feel alive.
My favourite kitchen tool is my knife. I imagine its like a writers fountain pen its something you dont lend to anyone, something you keep safe at all costs. I have a few, for different purposes: foraging, making charcuterie, prepping …
My storecupboard staple is Faugier creme de marrons [chestnut spread], and only Faugier. The sweetness, the notes of vanilla purists will tell you its not the best brand, but its the one I love. In a blind taste test of 20 different kinds, I could pick it out no problem. I am never without it. Theres no occasion that a dessert made with creme de marrons cannot suit. Basically, if I could be hooked up to a creme de marron IV, I would.
When Im starving I eat cheese. Any cheese. The only one I dont like is gaperon, with its garlic flavouring. A friend of mine makes a goats cheese that I love and I buy 40 at a time. Just as he was gearing up to make this years new-season cheeses in April, I was finishing off last seasons cheeses that Id bought in November. We did a neat loop, his cheeses and I.
My culinary inspiration is the seasons. I love knowing where I am in the year depending on what we can buy at the market. Its always the end of one thing and the beginning of another; I look forward to the return of each loved one: the first peach of the season, the first crop of asparagus
My best-kept kitchen secret is how to make the easiest apple tart: cut out a circle of ready-rolled puff pastry on its baking paper. Put some brown sugar between the paper and the pastry, poke with a fork a couple times, scatter with dry couscous, then arrange your thin apple pieces all over. Dot with salted butter and some more sugar, and bake until the pastry is cooked and the apples are golden … 10 minutes, perfection.
When Im invited to dinner I always take my wife, a bottle of wine and a good mood. Im always happy when people invite me to dinner. Whenever people say: Oh, wed love to invite you to dinner, but we dont dare because youre a chef, Im always mystified Im not interested in any kind of culinary competition. I just love having a good time.
- Stphane Reynaud is a French chef and cookery writer. His latest book Simple French Cooking publishes in October. His first London restaurant, Tratra, opens this week. Follow him on Instagram @stephan_reynaud
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