French chef Veyrat seals comeback with third Michelin star

French chef Marc Veyrat, holds a Michelin guide after being awarded the maximum three Michelin stars, during the Michelin guide award ceremony at La Salle Musicale in Boulogne-Billancourt near Paris on February 5, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 06 February 2018
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French chef Veyrat seals comeback with third Michelin star

PARIS: Marc Veyrat, the comeback king of French cuisine, was back at the top of the culinary pecking order Monday after the Michelin guide awarded him the maximum three stars.
The flamboyant chef, who is rarely seen without his black Savoyard hat, has now won the top rating for three different restaurants over the course of his career.
Nine years after Veyrat was forced to give up cooking after a serious skiing accident and three after his alpine restaurant La Maison des Bois burned down, the 67-year-old was back at the summit of French cooking.
As his three stars were announced at a Paris theater, Veyrat told AFP that “you have to hit rock bottom to realize how good things can be,” adding that he felt “like an orphan for the period when I wasn’t in the Michelin guide.”
Famed for his highly inventive creations that mix delicate infusions of wild herbs with hearty traditional Savoyard cooking, Veyrat is one of only two chefs promoted this year to the elite club who hold three stars, the Michelin guide said.
A self-taught master who has spent most of his life cooking in his home village of Manigod 1,600 meters (5,200 feet) up the Alps near Annecy, he has twice been given the maximum 20 out of 20 score by the rival Gault-Millau guide.
Addressing the celebrated chefs, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe hailed them as ambassadors who “contribute to the influence of French culture.”

Rise of Japanese chefs

The guide’s international director Michael Ellis also cheered the continued rise of Japanese chefs in France with two new two-starred restaurants, Takao Takano’s eatery in Lyon and Masafumi Hamano’s Au 14 Fevrier at nearby Saint-Amour-Bellevue in the Saone-et-Loire region of eastern France.
Five other Japanese chefs got a single star for the first time, including four in Paris led by Ken Kawasaki, the Pertinence run by Ryunosuke Naito and his Malaysian wife and patissier Kwen Liew; Takayuki Nameura of the Montee, and Keisuke Yamagishi of the Etude.
Takashi Kinoshita, who cooks at the Chateau de Courban in northern Burgundy, also made the grade.
“Japanese chefs have great technical skills and their cooking can be extremely precise,” Ellis said.
“France and Japan are quite similar,” said Naito as he celebrated his win. “France is presented to us as the number one in world gastronomy and for me Japan is number two. We both love good ingredients.”
Veyrat’s organic alpine vegetable gardens around his rebuilt restaurant make it almost self-sufficient. He has also pioneered the use of wild mountain herbs in broths and fermentations, and cites the botanist Francois Couplan among his heroes.
Ellis said Veyrat has earned himself “an important place in culinary history. It is very difficult to make characterful food with herbs, flowers and plants, but he does it,” he told AFP, picking out a dish of egg, hay and wood sorrel served with ravioli of “forgotten vegetables” as particularly brilliant.
Renowned fish cook Christophe Bacquie of the Castellet Hotel in the Var region of southeast France was also awarded a third star for the first time.
The 45-year-old is best known for his Mediterranean-influenced recipes, including John Dory, crab and caviar served in a perfumed cream of kaffir lime.

Club of 28

Only a tiny club of 28 chefs hold three stars from the Michelin guide, the bible of French gastronomy.
Last week for the first time the Michelin allowed a top French restaurant to bow out of its listings after its chef told AFP he no longer wanted to work under the “huge pressure” of being judged by its undercover inspectors.
Sebastien Bras’ Le Suquet restaurant in the rural Aveyron region had held the maximum three-star rating for 18 years.
Bras confessed that like “all chefs” he sometimes found himself thinking of fellow Frenchman Bernard Loiseau — who committed suicide in 2003, an act widely seen as linked to rumors that he was about to lose his third Michelin star.
This year the guide is launching a mentoring scheme led by Anne-Sophie Pic, the only woman with three stars in France, to help chefs cope with the pressure that Michelin recognition brings.
“It is a great boost to get a star,” Pic told AFP, “but there is also extra pressure as well as the fear of losing it. It can be a steamroller. With more and more people wanting to book a table at your restaurant, their expectations also rise.”
Canadian Noam Gedalof was among the intake of foreign-born chefs, getting a single star for his restaurant Comice in the French capital, while the Dane Andreas Moller of Copenhagen, Lebanese chef Alan Geaam and the Cypriot Andreas Mavrommatis were also similarly rewarded for their Parisian establishments.
The full Michelin guide for France, whose ratings are based on two or three visits by unannounced inspectors, will be published on Friday.


Saudi home-bakers cooking up sweet business on internet

Nada Kutbi started baking from home for family and friends before setting up her Sucre De Nada pastry shop to expand her home business. (Photos/Supplied)
Updated 22 May 2019
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Saudi home-bakers cooking up sweet business on internet

  • Thanks to social media, business is booming for Jeddah’s cake and pastry makers

JEDDAH: Enterprising Saudi home-bakers have been turning to social media to help cook up some sweet business success.
The Kingdom’s food producers are proving to be some of the rising stars of the internet, and none more so than 53-year-old mom Nada Kutbi.
Her Sucre De Nada pastry shop in Jeddah has become one of the go-to places for homemade desserts and cakes, and the online side of her business is also booming.
Kutbi’s daughter, Nassiba Khashoggi, told Arab News: “She has basically been baking all her life, especially after having children. She used to make cookies for us and whenever she tried a dessert somewhere else, she would recreate it.
“In restaurants or gatherings, she would always analyze sweets and make them at home for her family. That was how she started baking.
“I don’t think she ever thought she could pursue it as a career, but everyone loved her baking and one of her closest friends encouraged her to start her business when she was a stay-at-home mom.
“It was in 2011-2012, and her friend basically forced her to start by telling her, ‘yallah! make a cake and I will buy it from you now.’”
Khashoggi added: “In the beginning we just went by word of mouth, but when Instagram came along, we made an account and started posting pictures and the customers loved her creativity and uniqueness. I don’t think many people knew what banoffee was before my mom promoted it.”
Although Kutbi’s unique takes and touches went down a treat with customers, it was not until Ramadan last year that she officially opened her bakery in Jeddah.
But stepping up from running a home business presented new challenges. “When you are running a home business there are few staff and it is easy to control,” said Khashoggi. But expanding requires you to put more trust in other people and that was difficult for my mom. Also, when we increased the number of our products it became harder to maintain the quality of goods.”
Kutbi aims to avoid storing, pre-baking or freezing her products and is not a fan of mass production and blast freezing, according to her daughter. “In short, she is against commercial baking,” said Khashoggi. “What is unique about my mom is that everything she makes is made the same day from scratch. It makes it harder for her to redo everything but that’s what makes her special.”

HIGHLIGHtS

• The Kingdom’s food producers are proving to be some of the rising stars of the internet, none more so than 53-year-old mom Nada Kutbi.

• Kutbi’s unique takes and touches have been a hit with customer, but it was not until Ramadan last year that she officially opened her bakery in Jeddah.

Sometimes customers even send pictures or pieces of dessert to Kutbi asking her to recreate their favorite foods.
Another Jeddah-based bakery thriving on the internet is Ganache. Run by Anas Khashoggi, 58, and Jamila Ali Islam, 48, the pastry business has been operating for almost 20 years.
Khashoggi supported his wife after spotting her talent for baking and took a leap of faith by giving up his job and starting an online bakery.
“At that time, there was no social media, but we made an introductory website, which helped us gain popularity,” he said. That was in 1996, and the couple’s first store opened later the same year.
“Ganache has its own unique spirit as a family business, and it is run by Saudi youth who are managing the bakery and understand the Saudi market. The family committee is the one that approves the products,” added Khashoggi.