In the Kitchen with Michel Guérard
In the Kitchen
June 25, 2014
French Chef Michel Guérard has dedicated his life to creating innovative, diverse menus and food products through his work at many Michelin-winning restaurants, Nestlé and the French Ministry of Health. He is considered one of the founders of nouvelle cuisine, a lighter form of traditional French cooking with an emphasis on presentation. We talked to Guérard about the unique process of developing gourmet health food.
What is the main focus of your cooking?
We’ve been serving healthy cuisine for more thank forty years now. The new Eat Well & Stay Slim book is a very nice extract of all this work. The difference with most light cuisines is that we emphasize the pleasure food should bring. Thus, we have developed special techniques to produce sauces with a lot less fat, we cook food in a way that is not harmful (no deep frying, overcooking and burning), we make desserts with practically no sugar.
Is there a particular nutritional focus of your menus?
The recipes and the menus we serve always respect nutritional balance, as we work closely with our dietician team. All the menus are therefore composed of the right balance in terms of carbs, proteins and lipids. The cherry on the cake is that it is exquisite!
What is your relationship with local farmers?
We’ve developed great relationships over the years with local farmers and breeders. What is great about working closely with them is that we can ask them for special things that we’ll highlight in our recipes. They are very proud to see the result of their work. We also grow some of our key ingredients: aromatic herbs, citrus, etc. and we produce our own wines.
What are the major concerns today of your readers when it comes to making healthy food taste good? And how are you addressing them?
Health matters as much as Pleasure when eating. The Frenchman’s relationship with his diet is rather like that of an old married couple, eating is one of the easiest ways of giving himself a treat and to him this enjoyment feels almost like a social birthright which cannot be taken away from him. He does not want to have to choose between health and pleasure – he wants to have his cake and eat it too! And this makes a very interesting subject to work on. Thus, all our recipes are based on this principle. We work a lot on “cultural” cooking integrating French traditional recipes such as Cassoulet, Couscous, Paris-Brest, Chocolate cake, and so on, with a healthier twist.
How important is sustainability?
It is definitely important. We encourage good practices in our kitchen avoiding wastes, using leftovers for other purposes, closing fridge doors, turning off water, and more. We use pesticides at the bare minimum in order to protect eco-diversity.
What steps are you taking toward conservation in your meal planning?
Most of the products we use, except for exotic ones such as pineapple, come from a 1-hour drive radius. We use almost only seasonal products and we choose sustainable local farmers whenever we can.