Hello Matthieu. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I have been a chef for 21 years, 10 of which I have worked at Le Grand Bleu in Calais. Cooking is a passion that I’ve had since I was very young. I earned my CAP and BEP diplomas at the Saint-Pierre hotel school in Calais. Then I did an apprenticeship at Marc Meurin’s restaurant in Béthune for 5 years and at Assiette Champenoise in Reims for another year. I worked at Alain Ducasse’s culinary school as a Chef’s assistant where I gave courses to professionals as well as cooking enthusiasts.
I then worked at Pavillon Ledoyen at Carré des Champs-Elysées in Paris with Chef Christian Le Squer for 3 years where I was sous-chef before returning to Calais.
What is the defining feature of Le Grand Bleu restaurant?
We have a gastronomic restaurant that was completely renovated in 2016. The cuisine is entirely homemade, from the bread to the dessert sweets. The most important thing for me is using local products and giving preference to local fish.
I am very much a “locavore”. I work with producers and suppliers in the “Le Calaisis on y prend gout” network who provide me with tomatoes in season. I cook Radinghem snails, goat cheese from Bouvelinghem, cauliflower from Saint-Omer, which is exceptional, as well as carrots and watercress from Tilques.
We have a great, dynamic team who know how to work together to create an excellent atmosphere. Together we make very creative cuisine that is very precise when it comes to cooking times and seasoning. Having a solid team is essential. With their help I can expand the menu. We train young cooks and try to pass on the fire that will go on to kindle their passion for cooking. It’s very important because it’s the young cooks who will take over and, in turn, pass on their love of cooking.
The visual aspect is as important as the taste, and we strive to bring consistent quality to the dishes we serve.
Before it became our profession, cooking was our passion. We are lucky to have a very diverse, high-quality range of restaurants in Calais and its surrounding region.
You have given cooking courses at different times in your career and you continue to give them in your restaurant. Who are these courses designed for?
Anyone can take a cooking course. There is no need to have already taken an introductory course. The only thing you need is passion.
The course will start again in 2017 where we will prepare dishes that can be made at home. During the course, the most important thing is that people enjoy themselves in a relaxed atmosphere and leave satisfied with the experience. The courses are given in small groups. We have a new stove/oven unit that allows us to guide the students comfortably and efficiently.
Is there a product that you appreciate more ?
I really enjoy working with fish and seafood like sole and scallops. I think that seasonal products need to be brought back into focus. Each product comes from a specific season and our menu is based on that. A seasonal product can be cooked in many, many different ways. Scallops for example are in season from October to May. You can’t have them in any season you want. The flavour is just not the same.
Is there a meal you are proud of ?
It’s the Paris-Calais. I love the Paris-Brest dessert and I wanted to reimagine this dessert by bringing a touch of Calais to it. It’s a very rich dessert, full of curves and various textures. I’ll also say Rolled Sole with Comté gratiné and risotto.
The menu changes regularly and I don’t often return to the same recipe. The energy of changing the menu makes me push and expand my boundaries. I want my customers to enjoy themselves and I’m satisfied when I walk around the dining room and I see that they are happy with the dishes that come to their table.