Chef Clement Leroy’s Confinement Diary

Chef Clement Leroy’s Confinement Diary
During le confinement, all Paris restaurants/bars/cafés/brasseries, monuments (even the Eiffel Tower) are closed by order of the Government, until further notice. We asked chef Clément Leroy, by email, how he’s coping with the change in routine during this time. Q: After time spent in London what are your plans for your return to France? Will you launch your own restaurant? A: For the moment no specific project; the latest events have somewhat thwarted our plans! Before the lockdown, we went to France to stay with my family, perhaps not the best time but we had planned this for a few months as our London lease was ending. We’re confined near Romans-sur-Isère in the Drôme (Rhône-Alpes region), where my brother is a breeder / grain farmer. Q: What have you been doing with all this free time? A: Making the most of my beautiful son Jo, born on February 11th, 2020 – very comforting for both of us. Q: What did you cook on your last Sunday in London? A: Aya and I cooked together for our last London lunch. On the menu was Shabu-Shabu (a delicious Japanese nabemono hotpot dish of thinly sliced Wagyu beef and vegetables, boiled in water, served with dipping sauces) accompanied by a bottle of biodynamic Château Lepuy “Barthélémy” 2011 from the Bordeaux vineyards of the Amoreau family (making wine since 1610) – they recently came to dinner at The Square, it was a delight to see them there. Q: A simple recipe using ingredients from your pantry? A: Sardine rillettes with toasted bread. 1 can of sardines, 50gr of Philadelphia cream cheese and 50 gr of butter, a few chives, crush with a fork, voila, perfect for your aperitif! Q: If you are a dish – what dish is it? A : Lièvre à la royale (hare)– without hesitation! Q: For comfort ,what do you suggest Parisians do at home? A: Cook! And, look after your nearest and dearest; even if this period is particularly anxiety provoking some good will come out of it. Look at it as an opportunity to get together with family and maybe discover a little more about each other, these are precious moments of solidarity. Q: The culinary differences between London and Paris? A: Three words summarize each city: London: Marketing, Atmosphere, Melting Pots. Paris – Products, Tradition, Unique! Q: Favorite London restaurant? A: Kiln (Soho) Q: Favorite Paris restaurant? A: Eclipses (7th) Q: What changes do you think there will be in kitchens and restaurants after this confinement period? A: The months that follow the end of the confinement will be very, very difficult for the majority of the restaurant industry, the suppliers, farmers etc. Financially it’s a nightmare, however I’m sure there will be a high level of motivation and multiplied creativity – the outcome of extreme frustration accumulated during these horrible and testing weeks of confinement. We will survive! See you on the other side! Need to Know: You remember Clément Leroy from L’Auberge du Jeu de Paume, Chantilly, where he was executive chef. He’s also sharpened his Laguiole knives under three-Michelin-star chef Guy Savoy in Paris at L’Atelier Maître Albert, Paris, and Restaurant Michel Chabran, Pont-de-l’Isère. More recently he was in London at the achingly chic “The Square”, Mayfair, London, in the kitchen with his wife the talented pastry chef Aya Tamura Leroy (ex-Beige, Tokyo, Yann Couvreur, Le Jules Verne etc.) At The Square (now closed), Leroy not only snagged a Michelin star but also saw off vegan animal rights activists who stormed the restaurant protesting his use of foie gras.

Lead photo credit : Chef Clemont Leroy. Photo courtesy Gilles Pudlowski

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Born in Hampton, Middlesex, UK, Margaret Kemp is a lifestyle journalist, based between London, Paris and the world. Intensive cookery courses at The Cordon Bleu, London, a wedding gift from a very astute ex-husband, gave her the base that would take her travelling (leaving the astute one behind) in search of rare food and wine experiences, such as the vineyards of Thailand, 'gator hunting in South Florida, learning to make eye-watering spicy food in Kerala;pasta making in a tiny Tuscany trattoria. She has contributed to The Guardian, The Financial Times Weekend and FT. How To Spend, The Spectator, Condé Nast Traveller, Food & Travel, and Luxos Magazine. She also advises as consultant to luxury hotels and restaurants. Over the years, Kemp has amassed a faithful following on BonjourParis. If she were a dish she'd be Alain Passard's Millefeuille “Caprice d'Enfant”, as a painting: Manet’s Dejeuner sur l’herbe !