Chef Name: Arnaud Bignon
Title: Executive Head Chef
Awards: Two Michelin Stars.
Four rosettes in the AA Guide.
How old were you when you started cooking professionally?
I started at 15 years old, just after a normal education.
What’s your earliest and fondest first memory of food?
My first memory of food was a strawberry sorbet made by the mother of my best friend, if I remember well. I think I was seven or eight years old.
Which chefs inspire you most and why?
I have been working with a lot of great chefs but I was very impressed by Louis Grondard, who was Head Chef of the Drouant restaurant in Paris, because he was an encyclopedia of products – where they came from, how to use them. The second one was Eric Frechon from Le Bristol Paris, because he was a very hard worker and very strict about the quality of the products. In seven years with him I never saw products of average quality going into the kitchen.
What are your two favourite cookbooks and why?
The Flavour Thesaurus from Niki Segnit, because you can work on very interesting combinations that you had not thought of before.The Produce Encyclopedia, because it tells you the exact season of each product and the best way to use it.
Which two ingredients could you not live without?
I love to use ginger and coriander almost everywhere.
What is your favourite comfort food to cook at home?
Very simple farfalle pasta with an aged parmesan and basil.
If you could eat at any Michelin star restaurant in the world today, where would it be and why?
I am a big fan of Japanese food and have never had the opportunity to go there. I think that the best sushi restaurant is Sukiyabashi Jiro in Ginza and I can imagine that the taste of each piece of sushi or sashimi is unique. Meeting Mr Jiro Ono is something you will remember all your life as well.
And who would you take as your guest?
It would be with my wife, because she has a very good palate and I love that as well.
What do you look for in a good chef?
I am looking for a curious chef, with gaiety and good vibes all day.
What advice would you give to chefs starting their career paths now?
To be like a sponge, to absorb all the things they can see in the kitchen as there is something to learn from everyone, to stay positive and take pleasure in every situation.
Chef Arnaud Bignon is Head Chef