By Laurent Feneau
In the heart of the Médoc vineyards, in Pauillac, Thierry Marx is quietly revolutionising the world of French gastronomy. He is the initiator of a surprising "planetary cuisine" but also proclaims the heritage of his peers.
From Hong-Kong to Singapore, passing through Thailand, Japan and Australia,
it was a long road before Thierry Marx finally settled down at the Château
of Cordeillan-Bages in the Médoc, where his restaurant is currently one
of the most talked about. So it is not surprising this two-star chef describes
his cooking as "planetary cooking" and is a great advocate of being
open-minded towards different countries and cultures. This interest in foreign
culinary cultures is certainly not new. It was indeed at an early age that this
Polish immigrant child was introduced to the Jewish Tunisian canteens and the
small Thai restaurants of the Belleville district in Paris. "I grew up
in this working-class district of north east Paris and each day coming home
from school I loved to linger around, breathing in all these exhalations of
Oriental cooking," reminisces this globetrotter.
Today, this chef has moved on from the kebabs of the 19th arrondissement and has created his own remarkable and contemporary culinary world, full of professionalism and creativity. In his private laboratory he works on cryonics, freeze-drying and various emulsion techniques with perfection without ever becoming too engrossed in a technological environment. On the contrary. "We have two people working full-time on the research and once a month we get together with a graphic artist and a food chemist to finalize our new creations. For me and my team, cooking is above-all a complete universe which is open to other disciplines" he explains.
Drop the cooking boundaries
If this modern-day alchemist likes using the latest culinary techniques, his main objective remains to glorify the product. There are no gadgets or extravagant staging, but quite simply the product dressed with its most wonderful tastes and textures. His favourites are fish and soya beans which he uses in a wide variety of dishes, notably for the soybean risotto with oyster and truffle juice, which in itself is worth making the detour by Cordeillan-Bages. "I love soya beans because, paradoxically, its neutral taste allows for real innovations. For example, for the risotto it allows me to start from zero regarding the taste and permits the essential flavours of these terroir products, the oyster and the truffle, to be accentuated." he explains. As innovating as his cooking appears, Thierry Marx is definitely not looking to break away from classic cooking. "Our elders showed us the way so there is no arguing between the older people and the younger ones. Today everyone agrees that cooking is a universal business and no longer the monopoly of certain countries . Besides, cooking is societal and therefore constantly "forced" to change and shake-up the traditional structures of the food industry." he confides.
Four years ago, this chef from Gironde and some other chefs decided to push this new approach even further by creating the collective "Génération C" to rejuvenate French cooking, but with the main objective of making it known worldwide. The OFF festival - Omnivore Food Festival - organised last February at the Havre allowed the public to come meet and watch working people such as Thierry Marx, Anne-Sophie Pic, Ferran Adria, Marc Veyrat, etc. So haute cuisine is not necessarily elitist for this militant who feels obliged to break down any boundaries between gastronomy and daily culinary dishes.
Sabre and kebab
Thierry Marx defends his ideas with much generosity and respect, defining both these values as the real essentials. He also paved his career path with a sabre at the ready, as, this daring chef and adventurer, draws much of his force and inspiration from Japan, a country where he stays three months per year " It's a country where I feel good and where the notion of respect is incredibly important. This respect is applied just as much to people as it is to their cooking and the products they use", he confides. After becoming a master in the art of traditional Kaiseki cooking, this chef gives classes in the most prestigious hotel schools of Tokyo and Kyoto. And Thierry Marx is indisputably excellent in what he does! So much so that the Japanese just entrusted him with creating the menu for a new Japanese restaurant in London. A truly unique event in French-Japanese culinary history
In the meantime, this awesome chef has many projects in mind. His next objective for Spring 2008 is to open a fast-food restaurant in Paris. This fervent defender of "working-class" food really wants to prove that it is possible to offer quality cooking to all incomes. Among other things, why not taste a tasty kebab? These are all childhood memories of a chef who is definitely not like the others.
Thierry Marx is a revolutionary. He is incessantly in search of new experiences and loves to extend the boundaries of French cooking, often by reinterpreting some old classics. In his restaurant the deep frying is icy-cold, the soufflé is a success without being cooked, the seawater is crunchy, the brioche may be eaten uncooked and his unstructured lemon tart is the best you will ever eat Definitely an avant-gardist!
|Soya Risotto with Truffles|
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