Buzz: Eric Guerin

By Margaret Kemp

It takes guts to invite someone into your kitchen, let them run wild with your new pianos, impose their ideas on your territory. Frankly I can’t stand anyone just touching my Magimix, but then my name’s not Alain Ducasse! 

“The problem is that during my travels, wherever I go, I keep hearing that French cuisine is no longer creative”, reflects Ducasse from the kitchens of the Relais Plaza, Paris, as he launched his latest concept, Fou/Food de France. “I always speak out loud and clear that I totally disagree with this negative attitude, in my opinion we eat better in France today, than ever”. Ducasse says that the regional influences of French chefs are to be found world-wide. “There are super-talented young chefs working with terrific enthusiasm to ensure French gastronomy continues”, he finds, and he should know, he employs and trains enough of them.

“For them, as for me, le gout (taste) is an eternal discovery, renewed daily. Le gout is a voyage, the destination, the future”, observes Ducasse. “There are excellent restaurants all over the world, Paris, New York, London, but also in tiny little known provincial villages, where it’s possible to eat fantastic food, created by passionate young turks”, he insists. And it’s not just the chefs, “behind every successful young talent are the products, each chef has a multitude, but each chef has one chou-chou, a producer, that he prefers”.  With Fou/Food de France, the chefs, from various regions in France, are invited to the Relais Plaza to cook, under the watchful eye of the Relais’ Executive chef Philippe Marc, and his team. They stay for 15 days, accompanied by his/her local producer of choice, say, foie gras, vegetables, boulangerie, pastry, lamb.

So, throughout the run of Fou/Food de France, Monday lunch at the Relais Plaza will be carte blanche for the young chef (they’re all under 40, all run their own canteens) to compose his plats. One of the dishes then stays for 15 days for Relais Plaza guests to taste. A celeb jury composed of the likes of Carole Bouquet, Alain-Dominique Perrin, Alain Ducasse, Georges Blanc, Marc de Champérard, Francois Delahaye (Director General of the Plaza) plus journalists and various foodies will deliver the verdict. And it ain’t over until it’s over. 

Try and get a table, the event lasts through 15 December, the first one stars Eric Guerin, definitely a name to remember. Guerin runs a picture perfect neo-rustic auberge in the heart of the marshes of la Grande Briere, think Venice of the Loire Atlantique, it’s on a little island, a corner of paradise. His food is as delicious as his parcours, “La Tour d’Argent, Taillevent, Jules Verne, and he’ll put the village of Saint-Joachim on the map, I mean have you ever heard of this place? It’s only 437 kms outside Paris, definitely worth le detour! And he does have a Michelin *.

Seems the lad’s a bit of a pigeon fancier, has been breeding them for years, so the locals (pigeons) better watch out once Guerin hits town. There’s nothing he doesn’t do to them, no part left unused. Braised, casseroled, en compote, ballotine, en paté, salmis, “that’s the best way to treat old birds”, he advises! Oh yeah! Really Eric, respect! Hang on, hang on, he hasn’t finished yet. Roast, grilled, sauté, en crapaudine or en papilotte!

And of course, Guerin’s schlepping a Pigeon-Meister with him, meet Rémy Anézo, aviculteur. Anézo has roughly 2000 couples in his TLC, not far from Guérande (where the salt comes from). They are free range, only eat corn and wheat with a few added proteins. “This diet makes them resistant to diseases and they taste incredible”, promises Anézo.  Wonder if Anézo has ever thought of opening a whole-grain spa for weight-watchers, you know “come to Guérande and learn to eat like a bird”. Don’t laugh, nobody ever thought extreme ironing would become an Olympic sport!     

“The profession of chef has brought me so much and continues to do so, I want to open up my kingdom, give back, in my way, something to the new French generation”. And we can all share it with him. Nice one Chef.

Relais Plaza,
21 avenue Montaigne, 8th (Champs Elysées Clemenceau)
T: 01 53 67 64 00
Open 7/7 12-14.45 - 19hrs - 23.30.

Eric Guerin,
L'Auberge du Parc,
44720 Saint-Joachim.
T: 02 40 88 53 01

Bon Appetit




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