The son and grandson of a pastry cook, Gilles believes he was predestined to become an executive chef. Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux, Gilles Tournadre is an artist, and a professional through and through who refuses to take the easy option and compromise on quality. "In our profession", he says, "the only thing that counts is the product; and it's our job to do it justice." And this sums up his philosophy when it comes to his work. Gilles Tournadre is real, authentic and natural, and the cuisine that he champions reflects his personality to a tee: no fuss, no pretensions. "Simple cuisine", as he calls it. And the keyword at Gill is indeed simplicity. Gilles Tournadre approaches his work like a true artist and professional: get back to basics, honour the product and focus on the task at hand.
It's a life-long quest; the story of a career began as an apprentice at the age of 15 in the kitchens of La Couronne in Rouen, the oldest inn in France. Gilles Tournadre then worked his way around the big names in hotels and restaurants in France: four years at Taillevent, a stint at Lucas Carton, becoming Chef de Partie at the age of 24 before returning to Rouen in 1984 to, finally, open his own restaurant. The following year, he obtained his first Michelin star, and was awarded his second star in 1990, which he has retained for the last 20 years.
What was your most moving culinary experience?
In the Eighties, a dinner at the Négresco in Nice, when Jacques Maximin was chef there. That’s where I ate my first salmon grilled on just one side with olive oil.
The most amusing kitchen incident you ever witnessed?
In the Seventies, I was a commis chef in the kitchens of L’Auberge des Templiers in Les Bézards. Deep in conversation with Mme Dépée, I suddenly had to drop my trousers in front of her because two wasps were busy stinging me.
Your best piece of advice for amateur chefs?
Shop at your local market, choose your ingredients carefully and cook them as simply as possible.
- 2 Michelin stars
8 et 9, quai de la Bourse
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