This is the question that Véronique André, columnist of scholarly gastronomy, poses to the elite of French cooks in her recent book Little secrets of great chefs (Hachette Cuisine, 2021): lessons in cooking and good taste.
Book cover Little secrets from great chefs by Veronique André. | Hatchet Kitchen
David Bizet at the restaurant l’Oiseau Blanc of the Peninsula de Paris (XVIand): butter from the Poncelet market (XVIIand), salt, Roellinger spices, cream.
Mauro Colagrecothree stars at the Mirazur de Menton (Alpes-Maritimes): eggs, butter, garlic, olive oil, lemon, vegetables from his vegetable garden.
Clementine and Jean CousseauLa Maison Cousseau (two stars) at Le Relais de la Poste, Magescq (Landes): fleur de sel from Salles-de-Béarn, hemp oil from the Landes.
Arnaud Donckele, three stars at La Vague d’Or in Saint-Tropez, chef at the Plénitude restaurant at La Samaritaine in Paris: all the spices in general, but ginger in particular, and seasonal vegetables. Butter and olive oil.
Beatriz GonzálezNeva Cuisine and Coretta in Paris: citrus fruits because their acidity reveals tastes that enhance all flavors, which brings the chef back to her childhood in Cozumel, Mexico.
Christopher Hatch in Eygalières (Provence): olive oil, herbs from Provence, spaghetti squash, hay from La Crau (AOC), saffron from Eygalières, white truffle from Ventoux.
Arnaud Lallement at the Assiette Champenoise (Tinqueux near Reims), three stars: lemon, champagne vinegar, all the spices and langoustines.
Edouard Loubet in Manigod (Savoie): butter, flour (particularly chestnut flour) and chickpeas.
Christopher Moretchef of the restaurant La Bauhinia at the Shangri-La Hotel (Paris XVIand): homemade tomato sauce in September and sterilized in jars.
Jean-Louis Nomicos in Paris XVIand: the paste of anchovies, black olives and green olives.
Bernard and Mathieu Pacaud IVand: olive oil, cream, butter and Corsican charcuterie.
Gerald Passedatthree stars at the Petit Nice in Marseille: fish, Camargue rice, but also vegetables and lemon.
Laurent Smallthree stars at Clos des Sens in Annecy: beluga lentils, whitefish, spring onions, Bex salt, olive oil and pepper.
Anne-Sophie Picthree stars in Valence: eggs, olive oil, butter, sardines in oil, fleur de sel and its collection of peppers.
Eric Prasthree stars at the Maison Lameloise de Chagny (71150): hazelnut oil, spices, Guérande salt, jars of tuna belly in oil and green olives for cakes (childhood memory) .
Michael Rothex-chef at the Ritz in Paris, president of the Bocuse d’Or Academy: salt, nutmeg, Melfor® vinegar, cabbage.
Michel Sarrandouble starred in Toulouse: duck fat and ginger.
Guy Savoythree stars at La Monnaie de Paris: good bread, double-cream butter, eggs, nuts.
Cesar Troisgrosthree stars in Roanne: a very good black pepper from his Roellinger friends.
Yannick Allenothree stars at the Pavillon Ledoyen and at the Cheval Blanc in Courchevel: its Asian spices, sesame oil sauce, a few finely cut garlic petals, soy sauce, a piece of chilli, chives, juice lemon, celery ball.
Frederic Antonthree stars at the Pré Catelan (Paris XVIand) and chef of Jules Verne at the Eiffel Tower: eggs and potatoes. Spices, semi-salted butter, oil, cider, honey, garlic and apples.
Armaud-Arnalstarred with Chassagnette in the Camargue: garlic, lemon, fennel, olive oil.
Christophe Bacquiethree-star chef at the Hôtel du Castellet (Var): fish, olive oil, fresh vegetables and fruit from the region, potatoes and chicken broth.
Cedric Bechadechef at the Auberge Basque in Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle (Pyrénées-Atlantiques): Espelette pepper, piquillo peppers, Gernika pepper, guindillas and all easy-to-digest peppers that are not stronger than pepper but which are ten times more fragrant.
Kei Kobayashithree-star Japanese chef in Paris (Ier): vegetables and seasonal products, fish, meat, spices, butter, salt and pepper.
Christian le Squerthree-star chef of the Five at the Hotel George V: buttermilk and butter, dairy products that are always present in his kitchen.
Regis and Jacques Marconthree stars in Saint-Bonnet-le-Froid (43290): seasonal mushrooms, eggs, potatoes, butter, cheese, salt and pepper.
Jean-Sulpice at the Auberge du Père Bise (Talloires in Savoie), two stars: honey, pepper, salt, fruit, vegetables and herbs.
Alain Passardthree stars at the Arpège in Paris (VIIand): fresh seasonal vegetables from the garden.
Romain Mederex-starred chef at the Plaza Athénée, chef at Sapid in Paris (Xand): potatoes, Comté cheese, butter, lentils.
Olivier Nasty, chef from Chambard in Alsace: game and vanilla. Green vegetables, mushrooms and anything on the market that can be associated with rice.
Fanny Reystarred chef and owner of the Auberge de Saint-Rémy-de-Provence: vegetables, plants, wild and medicinal flowers, seaweed.
Akrame Benallalstarred chef rue Tronchet (VIIIand): olive oil, Maldon® salt, tonka bean, and Voatsiperifery pepper from Madagascar.
George White in Vonnas (Ain), triple starred: its sauces, sauce bases and whipping. Butter and cream.
Helene Darrozetwo-star chef: the champagne she likes to cook, eggs, pickles, tomatoes, zucchini and peas in season.
Pierre Gagnairethree-star chef in his restaurant at the Hôtel Balzac in Paris: a little fat, lots of vegetables, eggs, fish, oysters and all the legumes.
Thierry Marxtwo-star chef at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Paris (Ier): butter, salt, pepper, olives and dried capers, olive, sesame and peanut oil. And chocolate of course!
Xavier Mathieustarred chef in Joucas en Provence (84220): basil, herbs, olive oil (his own), lemon.
René and Maxime Bestthree-star chefs at La Bouitte in Saint-Martin-de-Belleville in Savoie: Maxime loves the butter that brings so much indulgence, René loves potatoes and mountain charcuterie.
Alain Pegouretstarred chef at the Sergent Recruteur in Paris (IVand): olive or avocado oil, onions, herring in oil, Kaviari® caviar, fleur de sel, herbs and spices.
Nicholas Sale, ex-starred chef of the Ritz de Paris: salt, pepper, eggs and dried pasta. His kitchen utensils and his notebooks which are also very precious to him.
Christian Sinicropistarred chef at Martinez in Cannes: marjoram for its flavor, olive oil, herbs and spices.
Jean-Francois Traptwo-star restaurant in its Grand Restaurant (VIIIand): a piece of parmesan, butter, mustard, salt and pepper.
Christopher Coutanceauthree-starred in La Rochelle: sea fish, risotto, spices, cooked ham, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Julien Dumaschef of the Château-Hôtel Saint-James in Paris (16thand): black garlic, sherry vinegar, honey and above all a good cauliflower.
Christian Etchebestchef of the Cantine du Troquet in Paris (VIand): eggs, garlic, Espelette pepper.
Nicholas Massetwo-star chef at Sources de Caudalie in Martillac (Gironde): caviar from Aquitaine, wild garlic, Basque specialties such as sheep’s cheese and Bayonne ham.
Alexandre Mazziathree-star restaurant AM in Marseille: all garden produce in season, lentils, spices, harissa and semolina.
Flora Mikulachef of the Auberge Flora in Paris (XIand): olive oil, Espelette pepper and fleur de sel.
Jean Pierre Vigatoex-starred chef at the Apicius restaurant in Paris (VIIIand): ground pepper, broth, herbs and vegetables.
Julien Gatillonchef of the restaurant Nous in Megève: mustard and fleur de sel.
Michel Guerardthree-star chef at Prés d’Eugénie in Eugénie-les-Bains (Landes): cheese, butter, mushrooms, fruits and vegetables of the day.
Cyril Lignac, owner of several restaurants and pastry shops in Paris: olive oil, salt, pepper and sugar. His knives!
Guy Martinchef of the Grand Véfour in Paris (Ier): butter, olive oil, seasonal vegetables, wild pepper from Madagascar, garlic, nuts and olives.
Glenn Vielthree-star chef at Oustau de Baumanière in Baux de Provence: vegetables from his vegetable garden and caramel flan.
Good cuisine is based on quality and the search for good basic products, a chosen, impeccable raw material. The ways of doing things, the recipes, the style of the chef come next. This is also called “market cuisine”, as Paul Bocuse said: seasonal products reflect the gifts of nature.
Véronique André signs Little secrets of great chefs – Portraits and family recipes of the greats of gastronomy. Hatchet Kitchen. Illustrated edition. An excellent practical book. 288 pages. €25.95.