The Caterer

Great French Chefs and Their Recipes

30 March 2006
Great French Chefs and Their Recipes

Great French Chefs and Their Recipes is a rare thing: a true chef's book that you can find in high-street booksellers such as Waterstone's. Actually, its title is a little misleading if you're expecting only Michelin-honoured chefs to be featured. Others cooking in a more simple way are also spotlighted. But don't let that put you off: it's still worth having a look at, particularly as its price doesn't break the bank.

The book has some three-star chefs and some uncomplicated bistro cooking, which makes for an interesting read. Each chapter has one page about the chef it highlights, giving details of his or her restaurant and career, information about why they are a "great chef" and some of their classic recipes. Each section is accompanied by some beautiful food photograhy by Jean-François Mallet.

I was happy to find that one of the featured chefs is Marc Haeberlin of Auberge de l'Ill, as I was lucky enough to work at this three-Michelin-starred Alsace restaurant in the 1990s. There's also a chapter on the great Alain Passard from L'Arpège in Paris. His famous tomato and spice recipe is something we have used at Maze - it is really mind-blowing.

I also found Corsican chef Georges Billon of Hôtel de Cala Rossa - somewhere I haven't come across before - really interesting. His restaurant holds one Michelin star, and his food seems so natural, so "of the moment" that I think we could all learn from him. He isn't chasing trends at all - just cooking great food in natural surroundings. Actually, if you need a parallel in the UK, he reminds me of our own Andrew Pern at the Star Inn in Yorkshire.

I liked, too, the modern recipes from Olivier Roellinger and the chapter highlighting Pierrot, a small bistro in Lille. And one of my favourite chefs, Anne-Sophie Pic, whose food dazzles and excites, really deserves to be in the book. This is a great read and a massive source of inspiration - worth every penny of the £25 it costs.

Jason Atherton, chef-director, Maze, London

Great French Chefs and Their Recipes
Jean-François Mallet and Jean-Louis André
Flammarion Publishing, £25
ISBN 2-0801-1170-1

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