The three-Michelin-starred head chef at Epicure at Le Bristol Paris, who is also chef-patron at The Lanesborough, on testing new talent, his mother’s apple pie and why he likes playing with fire.
Three-Michelin-starred head chef Eric Frechon
How did you become a chef ?
It all started when I was 13 years old. I wanted a bike, and my father told me I had to work to buy it, so I went looking for a summer job. I found a position in a restaurant at the seaside and developed a real passion for food. After that, I went on to study at the culinary school in Rouen.
Who would you most like to work alongside?
Joël Robuchon, without hesitation. He’s one of the greatest French chefs and he works with such precision.
What do you consider the greatest dish you’ve ever created?
It would have to be the stuffed macaroni with black truffle, artichoke and duck foie gras, gratinated with mature Parmesan, that we serve as a starter at Epicure. It has stayed on the menu ever since I first made it, and it uses some of the most wonderful ingredients from France and Italy.
Is there anything you still struggle to cook?
Nothing comes to mind, but you do have to be very careful with salt. Guests at Le Bristol Paris come from all over the world and not every nationality enjoys the same amount.
French cuisine has long enjoyed a reputation as the best in world. Do you think that’s still true today?
Absolutely. Just like fashion, French cuisine keeps evolving and we chefs keep finding new ways every day to build on our culinary heritage. It helps that we have such excellent produce in France as well – not every country is as lucky.
Which other cuisine around the world inspires you, and why?
I’m fascinated by Japanese food. Chefs in Japan have so much respect for the produce and techniques they use.
Which dish do you ask a chef to cook for you in an interview?
Hare à la royale is an excellent test. It’s a slow-braised dish dating back to 1775 and includes ingredients such as foie gras, offal and cognac, accompanied by Jerusalem artichoke ravioli with black truffle, celeriac and chestnuts with horseradish. It takes three days to prepare and it’s difficult to master, but it’s one of the greatest French dishes of all time.
And what’s the best thing anyone has ever cooked for you?
I have incredible memories of my mother’s apple pie, fresh from the oven. It was the smell of my childhood.
Do you think your friends and family feel under pressure when they invite you for dinner?
Yes, a little! Some people try to cook dishes that will impress me, but I always prefer it when they cook with their heart.
What do you eat at home?
I love barbecuing. It’s a real challenge, because you have to judge the cooking time of each ingredient perfectly – but you get to play with fire!
Do you ever eat junk food?
Yes, but just to taste it.
What’s the best thing about working at Le Bristol Paris?
Everything is possible – we use the most fantastic produce and there’s a really talented team in the kitchen. When Epicure was given three Michelin stars, it was a great reward for us.
And, finally, where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?
I can’t imagine myself anywhere else than here. Wherever I am, I will always, always be in the kitchen.