Former champion diver and student of the decorative arts at the Atelier d’Ingres in Montparnasse, Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux Michel Trama turned his creative talents to gastronomy when he met his wife, Maryse. It was she who introduced him to the fine flavours of family cuisine. In 1974, they opened their first bistrot, “Sur le pouce” on Rue Mouffetard in Paris. Then, in 1978, they fell in love with Puymirol. That was the beginning of L’Aubergade. Since then, Michel Trama has been scouring the markets of the Lot-et-Garonne, in search of the finest and unusual products. His cuisine exudes his love for natural products and indeed his love for life. The talent of a true artist whose efforts were rewarded in 2004 by the election as Best chef of the year by the chefs starred in the red guide.
After starting as a waiter in a pizzeria, he began working in kitchens at the age of 28. He took over an eating house on Rue Mouffetard, Paris, in 1974 with a chef who, one morning didn’t turn up for work and Trama stepped on, which is when his interest turned into a challenge and a passion. He claims to have learnt everything he knows from books, particularly “Cuisine Gourmande” by Michel Guérard and works by Escoffier.
What was your most moving culinary experience?
At the end of 1978, a meal at Bernard Loiseau’s restaurant in Saulieu: I was 31 and it was the first time I had ever eaten in a grand restaurant. I was blown away!
The most amusing kitchen incident you ever witnessed?
Number one, the chocolate teardrop created in Puymirol, along with Michel Belin, a chocolate maker from Albi. I used the same appliance as the one Michel Guérard uses for his chocolate marquise… except that I messed up! To make up for it, I added some liquid. Total heresy for the professional…
Secondly, some very thin slices of pineapple that I put in the oven and forgot about. This mistake gave rise to the famous “cristallines” of fruits and vegetables - as brittle as glass.
Your best piece of advice for amateur chefs?
Just one motto: “the simplicity of excellence”. That is fine ingredients, perfect seasoning, spot on cooking times.
- Chevalier de l’ordre du Mérite National (Knight of the National Order of Merit) presented by Paul Bocuse, 1993
- Gault et Millau Chef of the Year, 1991
- Election of Best chef of the year, 2004
- 2 stars in the Michelin Guide, 2011
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