Paris (AFP) – At the table of the French president, we will never serve you tomatoes in December, nor white truffles of Italy or Spanish ham, as good as it is: "My role is to promote the soil French, "says Guillaume Gomez, his chef.
On his desk, sits "the first black pepper" French, come from Reunion. "It's not the best in the world, but it's French and it has the merit of existing," said AFP this smiling and voluble 40-year-old man. Since 2013, he has directed the Élysée kitchens, which he integrated during his military service.
Fervent defender of the soil and the French gastronomic know-how which he transmits in the books of "Lessons in step by step" for the adults and the children or via numerous associations, he also militates for a kitchen "non-elitist", seasonal and accessible to all.
There is no need to question this highly media-savvy leader about the likes of President Emmanuel Macron and his predecessors: he never talks about it.
The chef, of Spanish origin, the youngest holder of the history of the very prestigious title of Meilleur Ouvrier de France in 2004, prefers to tell how he is "promoting French agriculture" on the plates of the presidential palace.
"Jabugo ham is perhaps the best ham in the world, I'm happy to eat in Spain, but at the Elysee table you'll never see," he says. "We have people in France who make very good ham".
Ditto for the very prized white truffle from Piedmont, coming from Italy: "I will not do it".
– Vegetarian entry for heads of state –
"The Élysée is not cut off from the world and its cuisine evolves with the mentalities," he says, stating that one eats less and more balanced.
The last gala dinner served at the Musée d'Orsay for fifty or so heads of state on the occasion of the ceremonies on November 11, and he co-signed the menu with Alain Ducasse, Anne-Sophie Pic and Pierre Hermé, is the proof.
"The entree was 100% vegetarian, which would have been unthinkable 20 years ago," he says.
In general, "we eat less, we do not stay six hours at the table, we do more meals with three starters, three dishes, three desserts, six fish and twelve services as we could do before."
And in the plate, simple products are very fashionable. The leek burned with oysters by Eric Fréchon "is a very big dish in the making" whereas 30 years ago "nobody would have eaten leek in a restaurant 3 stars Michelin".
– Disguised as a cook at 3 years old –
Guillaume Gomez, who disguised himself as a cook at nursery school, at the time when the profession was "not as glamorous as today", has just published a recipe book for children at Editions du Chêne.
The goal is to learn how to prepare traditional dishes creatively and playfully: chocolate mousse and parchment pie with vegetable fries or ratatouille bayaldi "even better than in the cartoon".
"We need to rehabilitate some of the children to eat better (…) The kitchen is not a story of elitism or price.It is very good dishes with leeks and tomatoes when 'is seasonal,' says the chef, lamenting that some children go to school with "a packet of chips for breakfast" which cost "more than a buttered toast".
"When kids touch the products, they want," he says. "A kid who tells you, I do not like spinach, have him make the spinach cake!"
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