Interview with leading French chef Pierre Gagnaire
The celebrated chef reveals his simple pleasures, seasonal menus and how he stays focussed
He’s been voted the best chef in the world by his peers, he’s a leader in modern French fine dining, and the head of a collection of restaurants around the world, including his eponymous, three Michelin-starred establishment in Paris. Pierre Gagnaire is also known for being utterly charming and humble. We catch up with the legendary chef at Pierre’s Bistro and Bar at the InterContinental Dubai Festival City…
How do you keep things fresh?
I know my capacity and I stay focused on the work. I have many brands to manage, but the key to success is to have a very good team, such as Francois Xavier Simon [head chef at Pierre’s Bistro and Bar]. The most important thing is to have stable relationships in my environment, which leads to the pleasure of seeing people, cooking and creating recipes. It’s not easy, but it’s simple.
What are you most proud of?
After 40 years, I am still here on the restaurant stage. I’m very proud of building a team and a legacy, plus I am very happy that everything is going well in both my work and my private life.
Despite earning one and two Michelin stars for your restaurants in St Etienne, France, you went bankrupt in 1996. What did that experience teach you?
Location is very important! During my time in St Etienne, I built a fantastic restaurant. However, the media spotlight wasn’t on me, which gave me time for creativity and to build my story. If you don’t make time for yourself, it’s impossible to grow.
Where do you get inspiration?
Everywhere. It might be a fantastic building, the light and vibe of a city or from somebody. This morning, it is a pleasure to be with you, for example.
What’s your favourite city?
I don’t have one. It’s very important to be comfortable with yourself, so you can be content wherever you are, whether in a city, like Dubai, or in a small village.
What’s your philosophy on life?
To do as I say, and to say as I do. We all have our faults, but if you are honest and you respect people, plus you have the capacity to be happy, enjoy success and not to get jealous, then you’re onto a good thing.