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.


Worth the sting: Cuba’s scorpion pain remedy

Farmer Pepe Casanas poses with a scorpion in Los Palacios, Cuba, December 5, 2018. Picture taken December 5, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 16 December 2018
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Worth the sting: Cuba’s scorpion pain remedy

  • In Cuba, where tens of thousands of patients have been treated with Vidatox, each vial costs under a dollar
  • The scorpions are caught in the wild as Labiofam workers believe their venom — which is not dangerous — is not as potent when raised in captivity

HAVANA: Once a month for the last decade, Pepe Casanas, a 78-year-old Cuban farmer, has hunted down a scorpion to sting himself with, vowing that the venom wards off his rheumatism pains.
His natural remedy is no longer seen as very unusual here.
Researchers in Cuba have found that the venom of the blue scorpion, whose scientific name is Rhopalurus junceus, endemic to the Caribbean island, appears to have anti-inflammatory and pain relief properties, and may be able to delay tumor growth in some cancer patients.
While some oncologists abroad say more research is needed to be able to properly back up such a claim, Cuban pharmaceutical firm Labiofam has been using scorpion venom since 2011 to manufacture the homeopathic medicine Vidatox.
The remedy has proven popular.
Labiofam Business Director Carlos Alberto Delgado told Reuters sales were climbing 10 percent annually. Vidatox already sells in around 15 countries worldwide and is currently in talks with China to sell the remedy there.
In Cuba, where tens of thousands of patients have been treated with Vidatox, each vial costs under a dollar. On the black market abroad it can cost hundred times that — retailers on Amazon.com are seen selling them for up to $140.
“I put the scorpion where I feel pain,” Casanas said while demonstrating his homemade pain relief with a scorpion that he found under a pile of debris on the patch of land he cultivates in Cuba’s western province of Pinar del Rio.
After squeezing it long enough, it stung him and he winced.
“It hurts for a while, but then it calms and goes and I don’t have any more pain,” he said.
Casanas, a leathery-skinned former tobacco farmer who now primarily grows beans for his own consumption, said he sometimes keeps a scorpion under his straw hat like a lucky charm.
It likes the shade and humidity, he says, so just curls up and sleeps.

FROM FARM TO LAB
In a Labiofam laboratory in the southern Cuban city of Cienfuegos, workers dressed in scrubs and hairnets tend to nearly 6,000 scorpions housed in plastic containers lined up on rows of metal racks.
Every few days they feed and water the arachnids that sit on a bed of small stones. Once a month, they apply an 18V electrical jolt to their tails using a handcrafted machine in order to trigger the release of a few drops of venom.
The venom is then diluted with distilled water and shaken vigorously, which homeopathic practitioners believe activates its “vital energy.”
The scorpions are caught in the wild as Labiofam workers believe their venom — which is not dangerous — is not as potent when raised in captivity.
After two years of exploitation in the “escorpionario,” they are released back into the wild.
Dr. Fabio Linares, the head of Labiofam’s homeopathic medicine laboratory who developed the medicine, said Vidatox stimulates the body’s natural defense mechanisms.
“After four to five years (of taking it), the doctor whose care I was in told me that my cancer hadn’t advanced,” said Cuban patient Jose Manuel Alvarez Acosta, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008.
Still, Labiofam recommends Vidatox as a supplemental treatment and says it should not replace conventional ones.