Jean-Luc Lefrançois has been delighting gourmands for more than 30 years.
Originally inspired by his grandfather, a professional baker in Rouen, it is with a smile that Lefrançois recollects the first step of a journey which has taken him through some of the finest kitchens in the world: Le Bristol Paris, Le Ritz, l’Hôtel de Crillon, Le Relais Louis XIII and Prunier to name a few.
His signature dishes, such as soft-boiled egg encased in brioche or pistachio crusted sea bass, have seduced many food critics. Lefrançois is well known as a true artist and composer of flavour.
What would you be if you had not become a chef?
If I had not become a chef, I would be a mountain guide. I am a true mountain lover and I enjoy athletic challenges. I need to be close to nature, and I like to make people dream. A mountain guide takes you to hard-to-access places and knows all of the different paths, both in summer and winter. I find this wonderful.
Which dish do you enjoy cooking the most?
The Egg is one of my signature dishes that can be found on the menu of Le Saint-Martin: soft boiled and housed in a brioche bowl with spring vegetables and herbs. It is a light dish with varying textures. It combines a crispy side with the melting heart of the egg yolk.
Has travel influenced your cuisine?
A trip to Japan in June 1988 was a catalyst for me. I have been back there many times since. I was a young chef assistant at the Royal Monceau Hotel in Paris, and the first assistant wanted to go to Japan for an international competition that was held in Sapporo. He set up a team of three and I was lucky to be part of it. It was then that I discovered Japan, the beauty of the country itself as well as the rigorous, perfectionistic and refined aspects of Japanese cuisine. The flavours are bold and there are many colours involved. I have since put into practice numerous discoveries from this trip, and it has helped me develop my culinary identity.