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A minute on the clock: Eric Chavot

11 December 2008 by

Eric Chavot, head chef at the two-Michelin-starred restaurant in London's Capital hotel, represented the UK at a lunch celebrating the 25th anniversary of the International Academy of Gastronomy in Paris last week. He spoke to Kerstin Kühn about the event

Caterer How did you get picked to represent the UK?

EricChavot Each country was supposed to have a three-Michelin-starred chef cooking for it. Heston Blumenthal was meant to represent the UK, but he had to pull out, and so they asked me to go in his place. They could have asked any of the two-starred British chefs to take part, but why they chose me, a Frenchman, I have no idea. Joël Robuchon had been lined up to represent France, and I leapt at the chance of cooking with him. Sadly, he also pulled out.

Caterer Which other countries were represented?

EC Eric Fréchon of the two-Michelin-starred Hôtel Le Bristol, where the event took place, represented France Ferran Adrià, from the three-Michelin-starred El Bulli was cooking for Spain Italy had Nadia Santini of the three-Michelin-starred Dal Pescatore and Switzerland was represented by Dominique Gauthier from Le Chat Botté.

Caterer What was on the menu?

EC Adrià created a "millennial egg" with truffle, mushrooms and hazelnuts Gauthier made a Vaucluse truffle bonbon "surprise" Santini served tortelli stuffed with pumpkin Fréchon cooked hare à la royale and then Laurent Jeannin, also from the Le Bristol, made a Nyangbo chocolate treasure with light mascarpone and fresh coffee ice-cream. I created the fish course and served spiced lobster in a coconut broth.

Caterer How did you decide what to cook?

EC I decided to go with the lobster dish because it represents modern British cooking. In Paris most neighbourhood restaurants are French bistros, but my favourite restaurant in London is a Thai restaurant. I also have an Indian and a Filipino chef working in my kitchen at the Capital, and I really try to incorporate influences from various international cuisines in my cooking.

Caterer Did any accidents happen?

EC Right at the beginning Ferran Adrià came to check his egg dish to make sure the texture was right, but when he tasted it the whole thing exploded in his mouth and egg yolk went all over his shirt. He swore a bit in Spanish everyone had a laugh but then we all just carried on. Everyone there was so professional and well organised that nothing really went wrong.

Caterer French president Nicolas Sarkozy was among the 120 guests. Did you get to meet him?

EC I'm not sure whether he was there for the whole meal or just popped in. At the end I only had a few minutes to speak to the diners, as I had to get a train back to London, but when I made the rounds in the dining room Sarkozy was nowhere to be seen.

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