Stéphanie Le Quellec: “I cook with my heart, no need to intellectualize”

For L’Express diX, the Michelin-starred chef Stéphanie Le Quellec (restaurant La Scène, in Paris) talks about the links between cuisine and seduction.

Does cooking to seduce work?

Cooking is a game of seduction and first of all with customers, whom we want to conquer, to take into our universe.

Your seductive dish to make them come back?

The signature entry to caviar and its sweet side. Under an extremely simple and stripped appearance, it creates the surprise: the brioche cube, once crunched, reveals a runny heart of potato soufflé which mixes textures and temperatures. We add spiciness and acidity with raw cream and wild sorrel. That sums up my vision of culinary seduction well.

What does Valentine’s Day mean to you?

It always amazes me a little cliché but being a restaurateur is adapting to what the customers want and in 2020, they still want to make this moment sacred, that’s why we have a menu special on the evening of the 14th.

The ideal meal for two?

With my husband, we are very simple so a platter of beautiful langoustines and oysters, a glass of champagne or a good glass of wine next to it will do the trick. The table is a pretext when you are in love. Nibbling a few seafood with your fingertips is not bad because with this sequenced and not hot side of the meal, it is we who control the time. Or small shrimps that we buy alive from fishermen and that we pan-fry in salted butter in the fire of our house in Normandy. For me, food is at the service of human relationships and is never really the heart of the matter. What matters to me is not what I am going to eat but with whom. When I have a real moment of sharing with someone, I must not take my head too much on my plate. I remember that a very long time ago, we were a table of four or five friends in a large restaurant and we were quite unbearable because we had to go into the chef’s kitchen and intellectualize the moment. However, we were not in there. It is a form of disrespect for the cook and his job of not going there for the right reason and the right occasion.

Can you not imagine a big happy meal in a gourmet restaurant?

Yes, and that’s why I thought about my restaurant differently. It is thought of as a place to live above all, it is a kind of modern two-star Michelin inn. It’s not uncommon for people to start chatting with each other and I love the idea. I do not have a boss ego, I have nothing against the fact that customers are not there to rave about. My cooking is a social pretext. I hate it when you start to describe my dishes too much, to detail what I wanted to tell. Sometimes I don’t know it myself … I cook with my heart, trying to get good cooking, good seasoning, good sauce.