Chef’s Table: Michelin-star chef Amaury Bouhours shares his ultimate vegan comfort food

In the first instalment of Tempus’s brand new series, Le Meurice Alain Ducasse’s head chef Amaury Bouhours tells us about his personal favourite recipes

Amaury Bouhours chef's tableChefs arguably have one of the most high-stakes jobs in the hospitality industry. The responsibility of creating high quality food for hundreds of people each night is daunting. And, if you work at a Michelin-starred restaurant like chef Amaury Bouhours does, that pressure increases to a maximum.

So what do these fine-dining, Michelin starred chefs — who make food with impeccable precision every night for clientele of the highest calibre — eat in their down time? What is their ultimate comfort food and why does that dish mean so much to them? That is exactly what we’re going to explore in Tempus’s exclusive new Chef’s Table series. We will be interviewing some of the world’s top chefs from the best fine dining restaurants, to explore more about their various cuisines and cooking styles.

And this Veganuary, we sat down with Amaury Bouhours, the Michelin starred French restaurant Le Meurice Alain Ducasse’s chef de cuisine, to learn about his favourite vegan comfort dish, why it means so much to him and if he has any advice for people looking to recreate it — straight from the chef’s table.Chef's tableYour restaurant Le Meurice Alain Ducasse specialises in French haute cuisine. What sets your menu apart?
At Restaurant le Meurice Alain Ducasse we don’t impose one single menu. We leave the guests the choice between starters, fish, main and desserts. Not only does this bring a sensation of freedom but it also allows a true conversation and exchange with the restaurant manager and their team who will guide the guest through the menu. 

How would you describe your style as a chef? What do you want your guests to experience?
My dishes are marked by asperities and committed flavours, which can sometimes be at the limit of provocation. I want guests to remember the experience by getting them out of their comfort zone. For example, at our restaurant, we start the experience with fried chicken feet. 

As we are concerned about waste in the restaurant, we have started preparing chicken feet — an element that is usually thrown away — like chips to be served as an amuse bouche. This was inspired by the Salon de la Paix of Château de Versailles. It can be very shocking at first glance to have those chicken feet in a restaurant room, but this contradiction is what we are looking for.  

What is your ultimate comfort food?
At home I like to cook dishes which can be shared, like a rice stew in the spirit of a Spanish paella. This dish is multifaceted in the sense that it can be prepared with fish and meat, with vegetables only or simply with some leftovers.  Comfort foodWhy is this a comfort food to you? Do you have any special memories associated with the dish?
A shared rice plate is by far what I prefer for a Sunday lunch with my friends. Rather than spending hours in the kitchen, I prefer spending time with my friends and family at the table – this is where memories are built.  

Can you please share the recipe of this dish for our readers?
At Restaurant Le Dali we proposed last spring this vegan dish based on rice and artichokes. It is quite simple yet very tasteful. Here is how you make it:Chef's Table recipeDo you have any tips for our readers?
My cooking advice is always to take care of the right sourcing of the products. Focus on seasonal and local products, it makes the dish automatically better.  

Do you have any general cooking advice?
In addition to the previous advice, which is for me really the essential cooking advice, I would recommend making simple recipes which highlight one or two products.  Chef AmauryWith your comfort food, have you found ways to elevate it to a fine dining level over the years, or is it best enjoyed in its most classic form?
The recipe at Restaurant Le Dali can be seen as an elevated version of a more simple rice dish. However, for me, comfort is mostly linked to a memory or a specific timing, so it should be simple and matching the moment. 

To know more about Chef’s Table and chef Amaury’s culinary heroes – and the best meal he’s ever had – subscribe to our weekly newsletter, the Tempus Edit, here

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