With three Michelin stars under his belt, over 10 successful restaurants worldwide and Le Chef’s title of ‘best chef in the world’ as his own, Pierre Gagnaire is notably one of the most respected chef’s in the industry. Although based in his native France, the accomplished chef is the culinary lead behind InterContinental Dubai Festival City’s Pierre Bistro. Here, we get to know chef Pierre Gagnaire on a personal level.
What’s your first food memory?
My first food memory is from my grandmother. My brother and I were always together as kids, and in the mornings when we were in bed my grandmother would bring us both a biscuit topped with butter and chocolate. When you’re a kid, you don’t realise the significance – crumbs in the bed and half asleep – but thinking back, it’s a very special, fond memory for me. It was quiet in the countryside, in the village where I was born, and how blissful it was to enjoy just a simple biscuit, with really amazing butter and a thin slice of chocolate.
Why did you want to become a chef?
My father had a restaurant, and I’m the oldest of my family so that naturally became my job. I didn’t like it at first, but after a few years it was my life and my passion for food started. I didn’t understand initially how working in this industry could open doors for meeting new people and how creative it’d allow me to be. With maturity and experience my appreciation grew.
Through all your culinary successes, you’ve always stayed clear of the whole celebrity chef scene. Why is that?
The reason is because when you do that, you spend a lot of time doing that. When you have the opportunity to be in the spotlight, it’s incredible the way that people see you, but if you become famous this doesn’t go away once the TV is switched off. You can be in a supermarket with people pointing at you, and I hate that. People become totally inquisitive and lose their minds around you. I don’t want to be treated like that.
What ingredients do you like to source from the Middle East?
Dates, camel milk, honey, lamb, and spices.
What five ingredients are always in your kitchen at home?
Olive oil, vinegar, butter, salt, and honey.
What is your comfort food?
An orange. It’s a simple choice, but when I was a child an orange was special. It was not something that was very accessible to me growing up. It was something very special to have an orange, in my time. And, if I had to pick something else I’d choose bread – a piece of nice bread with a little piece of chocolate on it. Another comfort food would be oysters. I love oysters.
When you’re at home, do you cook often?
In the summer, yes. In August when I’m at home, I enjoy getting into the kitchen. It’s my pleasure to cook for my family as I don’t see them very often so I enjoy spending this time with them over dinner at home.
If you could go back and give your younger self some advice, what would you say?
Don’t forget about your family and don’t forget your private life. It’s important to find balance.
For more information or reservations at Pierre’s Bistro, visit pierresdubai.com or call 04 701 1199.