These two are more than a fleeting trend. Their joint platform, Fulgurances, epitomises something rare, not just in France, but globally: two great minds, a point of contact and an exchange of ideas.
It’s no coincidence that the thrilling weekly French publication Les Inrockuptibles voted Sophie Cornibert and Hugo Hivernat, the two minds behind Fulgurances—whose combined age is less than 60—among their ‘100 Best’ (a list of artists, musicians, directors, writers and freethinkers) last June.
Joining together the food galaxy with pop culture, (Cornibert comes from the film industry and Hivernat from the electronic indie music scene), it all began four years ago, one evening at Noma in Copenhagen. An awesome dinner with a surprise, as that night René was not in the kitchen. Away travelling, he had left his famed restaurant in the talented hands of his then sous chef Sam Miller.
From that evening arose a dazzling idea, to organise a series of dining performances drawing attention to the sous chefs. Holding one event per month, the duo became the official platform for evolving cuisine start-ups and the next generation of great culinary performers.
Now in its fourth year, great names of the culinary world have been involved, including Sam Miller (now of Silvereye restaurant in Sydney), Rafa Costa (Mugaritz, Basque Country), Agata Felluga (Jour de Fête, Strasbourg), Laurent Cabut (Chateaubriand, Paris), Yoji Tokuyoshi (now of Tokuyoshi, Milan), Rose Greene (In de Wulf, West Flanders), Chloé Charles (Septime, Paris), Chiho Kanzaki (Mirazur, Menton) and Ludovic Pouzelgues (Maison Troisgros, Loire).
“We started slowly, step-by-step, without any kind of financial reward for a long time; however, the word-of-mouth advertising [of the events] was immediate. And the success, not only from the reviews, has been an instant reward,” say Cornibert and Hivernat.
In Italy, Enrico Vignoli, who runs Massimo Bottura’s office, also manages Postrivoro, a similar event organisation emphasising the next generations of chefs. “It was the example of Hugo and Sophie that spurred me to start this adventure,” reveals Vignoli.
As a logical next step, Cornibert and Hivernat are embarking on a new adventure by opening a base in Paris this fall called L’Address. At first glimpse L’Address might resemble a traditional restaurant. But it is has a different DNA. A 35-seat restaurant where the chef changes every six months, making L’Address a real stepping stone for new, talented chefs who will be put to the test. The space will offer chefs the opportunity to improve their knowledge by focusing on the fundamental points of their expressive vocabulary.
“We proposed to Chloé Charles that she should become the first chef to work with us and she accepted without hesitating. After more than three years by Bertrand Grébaut’s side, she has left Septime to undertake this new adventure. If all goes well for her, she should open her own restaurant by the end of next year.”
Chloé will be working at L’Address until the end of April 2016, working freely to create a menu of her own. Dishes won’t be tasting-size portions as she sees this as following a global form and a new style of convention that she’s keen not to fall into. The chef set to replace Chloé from May 2016 is still unknown, but it will most likely be an international name.
The duo (or rather trio, together with additional partner Rebecca Asthalter who joined Fulgurances in 2013) is always up to something new. On Mondays and Tuesdays they dedicate their time to Les Seconds Seront les Premiers (The Seconds Are First), another platform to showcase chefs of the future. “The second, or sous chef, plays a major role in a restaurant’s mechanics. Fulgurances wishes to position itself as a mediator; a talent scout for these young cooks who, one day, will create their own restaurant,” they proclaim. Through their events, Fulgurances offers a monthly opportunity for the ‘les seconds’ to express their culinary creativity.
They also plan to organise public events dedicated to natural wines, to offer unique internship opportunities as an initiation into Thai cuisine and to continue with their dedicated magazine. “We will spend our days travelling and collecting information and ideas for the new issues of Itinéraires d’une Cuisine Contemporaine (Itineraries of Contemporary Cuisine). [The magazine is] written by a group of expert collaborators and Benjamin Schmuck, besides being the photographer-in-chief, has now become the editor. What with all the things we have to do, we cannot make more than two issues per year.” Let’s call it the redemption of success.
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