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Guy Martin:
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Interview

Christine Delmar: How did your love for cuisine come about?

Guy Martin: Nothing in my family prepared me for it. But one day in a small restaurant I used to work for, I had a revelation while I was looking at the finished dishes. I understood that cooking was a way to express oneself, that it dealt with personal creation. I then proceeded to study all the recipes from a cookbook I had at home to better understand the basics of being a chef and to understand what cooking was all about.

CD:
It seems that understanding is a permanent quest for you. Is it this need to understand that pushes you into doing personal research?

GM:
It is important to me to position myself and my cuisine with the trends, especially towards food trends. In my opinion, cooking is a job of sharing. Preparing food for someone is a loving act. If you do not understand the other person, you cannot serve him or her well. This is why I studied the major food trends from prehistoric times until today, as well as the culinary culture of Savoie where I grew up. For the past 6 years, I have also tried to understand trends such as vegetarianism and diets.

CD:
What conclusions have you come to?

GM: I do not feel that diets are serious. There is no medical truth to this matter, but there is such an intense social pressure to be thin. It has not always been this way. In the days of Rubens and Renoir, the nudes they painted were quite voluptuous… I believe we really should learn to accept ourselves as we are. Personally, I can eat 4 meals a day including desserts and still be thin. This is human nature. Anyhow, I am firmly convinced that when you enjoy eating, you gain less weight.

CD:
What do you do with your research studies? Do you publish them?

GM: No, I burn them. Because what is true today may not be true tomorrow. And once I have come to my conclusions, the thought process no longer interests me…

CD: Let’s talk about when the Red Guide 2000 awarded you with three stars. How did you react to the third star?

GM: At first, it gave me a great deal of serenity. It was as if time had stopped, as if everything made sense, as if I was on the right path. Once these emotions passed, I wanted to dance on tables, to let my joy explode. The third star establishes me as a chef, it settles me down. It is also an inspiration for kids from small towns who aspire to be chefs, but do not have contacts in prestigious restaurants. My third star proves that you can be among the best while being self-educated and atypical. If one does this job with poetry and pleasure, anything is possible…

CD: You were never trained by the great chefs. Where does your inspiration come from?

GM: I am lucky to work near the Louvre Museum. I go there often in the afternoons after lunch. Paintings really inspire me. For a book that will be published at the end of this year, I created 50 recipes to complement 50 works of art, all of which I personally chose, from Neolithic frescoes to contemporary paintings. In the book, on one page, there will be the reproduction of the painting, and on the other, will be my recipe, one being the illustration of the other. I especially love the impressionists. Their sense of color and of general harmony helps me to create new dishes. A new idea suddenly explodes within me subconsciously. I need to write it down immediately, otherwise another idea comes up and I forget the previous one. Actually, I don’t write the idea down, I draw it.

CD: How many times a year is your à la carte menu modified? Are there dishes that never change?

GM: The à la carte menu changes each season. Not counting the daily menus, we cook close to 100 different dishes a year. There are 4 dishes which never change: Foie Gras Ravioli with a Creamy Truffle Sauce, Cod with Garam Massala-Coconut Sauce, Oxtail-Truffle Shepherd’s Pie, Artichoke Tart with Vegetable Confit and Bitter Almond Sorbet.

CD: Sometimes your dishes have traditional accents, sometimes exotic touches…

GM: My cuisine is modern and lively. I love the sweet and the savory mixed, the mélange of pepper and vanilla. Spices give a touch of color. The flavors invite you on a journey.

CD: A dessert based upon vegetables is quite original.

GM: Why? We make appetizers and entrées with fruit. It is essential to free yourself from taboos, from the forbidden. Why should we limit cuisine to what we know? By nature, cuisine is open. When I think of a recipe, I never have prefixed ideas. Only the result matters: it is good or it is not. It is in this same state of mind that until last year I practiced extreme sports. When you push your limits, you feel greater pleasures. I love vegetables and desserts. So it is natural for me to try to marry them. In fact, I love vegetables so much that I have dedicated a whole recipe book to them.

CD: What are your plans for the future?

GM: I never make plans. I live from one day to the next. My only goal is to refine my cuisine, to get rid of all pretensions and to get to the essence of this art.




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