What can top chefs not do without in the kitchen?

This is the question that Véronique André, columnist of scholarly gastronomy, poses to the elite of French cooks in her recent book Little secrets of great chefs (Hachette Cuisine, 2021): lessons in cooking and good taste.

Book cover Little secrets from great chefs by Veronique André. | Hatchet Kitchen

David Bizet at the restaurant l’Oiseau Blanc of the Peninsula de Paris (XVIand): butter from the Poncelet market (XVIIand), salt, Roellinger spices, cream.

Mauro Colagrecothree stars at the Mirazur de Menton (Alpes-Maritimes): eggs, butter, garlic, olive oil, lemon, vegetables from his vegetable garden.

Clementine and Jean CousseauLa Maison Cousseau (two stars) at Le Relais de la Poste, Magescq (Landes): fleur de sel from Salles-de-Béarn, hemp oil from the Landes.

Arnaud Donckele, three stars at La Vague d’Or in Saint-Tropez, chef at the Plénitude restaurant at La Samaritaine in Paris: all the spices in general, but ginger in particular, and seasonal vegetables. Butter and olive oil.

Beatriz GonzálezNeva Cuisine and Coretta in Paris: citrus fruits because their acidity reveals tastes that enhance all flavors, which brings the chef back to her childhood in Cozumel, Mexico.

Christopher Hatch in Eygalières (Provence): olive oil, herbs from Provence, spaghetti squash, hay from La Crau (AOC), saffron from Eygalières, white truffle from Ventoux.

Arnaud Lallement at the Assiette Champenoise (Tinqueux near Reims), three stars: lemon, champagne vinegar, all the spices and langoustines.

Edouard Loubet in Manigod (Savoie): butter, flour (particularly chestnut flour) and chickpeas.

Christopher Moretchef of the restaurant La Bauhinia at the Shangri-La Hotel (Paris XVIand): homemade tomato sauce in September and sterilized in jars.

Jean-Louis Nomicos in Paris XVIand: the paste of anchovies, black olives and green olives.

Bernard and Mathieu Pacaud IVand: olive oil, cream, butter and Corsican charcuterie.

Gerald Passedatthree stars at the Petit Nice in Marseille: fish, Camargue rice, but also vegetables and lemon.

Laurent Smallthree stars at Clos des Sens in Annecy: beluga lentils, whitefish, spring onions, Bex salt, olive oil and pepper.

Anne-Sophie Picthree stars in Valence: eggs, olive oil, butter, sardines in oil, fleur de sel and its collection of peppers.

Eric Prasthree stars at the Maison Lameloise de Chagny (71150): hazelnut oil, spices, Guérande salt, jars of tuna belly in oil and green olives for cakes (childhood memory) .

Michael Rothex-chef at the Ritz in Paris, president of the Bocuse d’Or Academy: salt, nutmeg, Melfor® vinegar, cabbage.

Michel Sarrandouble starred in Toulouse: duck fat and ginger.

Guy Savoythree stars at La Monnaie de Paris: good bread, double-cream butter, eggs, nuts.

Cesar Troisgrosthree stars in Roanne: a very good black pepper from his Roellinger friends.

Yannick Allenothree stars at the Pavillon Ledoyen and at the Cheval Blanc in Courchevel: its Asian spices, sesame oil sauce, a few finely cut garlic petals, soy sauce, a piece of chilli, chives, juice lemon, celery ball.

Frederic Antonthree stars at the Pré Catelan (Paris XVIand) and chef of Jules Verne at the Eiffel Tower: eggs and potatoes. Spices, semi-salted butter, oil, cider, honey, garlic and apples.

Armaud-Arnalstarred with Chassagnette in the Camargue: garlic, lemon, fennel, olive oil.

Christophe Bacquiethree-star chef at the Hôtel du Castellet (Var): fish, olive oil, fresh vegetables and fruit from the region, potatoes and chicken broth.

Cedric Bechadechef at the Auberge Basque in Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle (Pyrénées-Atlantiques): Espelette pepper, piquillo peppers, Gernika pepper, guindillas and all easy-to-digest peppers that are not stronger than pepper but which are ten times more fragrant.

Kei Kobayashithree-star Japanese chef in Paris (Ier): vegetables and seasonal products, fish, meat, spices, butter, salt and pepper.

Christian le Squerthree-star chef of the Five at the Hotel George V: buttermilk and butter, dairy products that are always present in his kitchen.

Regis and Jacques Marconthree stars in Saint-Bonnet-le-Froid (43290): seasonal mushrooms, eggs, potatoes, butter, cheese, salt and pepper.

Jean-Sulpice at the Auberge du Père Bise (Talloires in Savoie), two stars: honey, pepper, salt, fruit, vegetables and herbs.

Alain Passardthree stars at the Arpège in Paris (VIIand): fresh seasonal vegetables from the garden.

Romain Mederex-starred chef at the Plaza Athénée, chef at Sapid in Paris (Xand): potatoes, Comté cheese, butter, lentils.

Olivier Nasty, chef from Chambard in Alsace: game and vanilla. Green vegetables, mushrooms and anything on the market that can be associated with rice.

Fanny Reystarred chef and owner of the Auberge de Saint-Rémy-de-Provence: vegetables, plants, wild and medicinal flowers, seaweed.

Akrame Benallalstarred chef rue Tronchet (VIIIand): olive oil, Maldon® salt, tonka bean, and Voatsiperifery pepper from Madagascar.

George White in Vonnas (Ain), triple starred: its sauces, sauce bases and whipping. Butter and cream.

Helene Darrozetwo-star chef: the champagne she likes to cook, eggs, pickles, tomatoes, zucchini and peas in season.

Pierre Gagnairethree-star chef in his restaurant at the Hôtel Balzac in Paris: a little fat, lots of vegetables, eggs, fish, oysters and all the legumes.

Thierry Marxtwo-star chef at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Paris (Ier): butter, salt, pepper, olives and dried capers, olive, sesame and peanut oil. And chocolate of course!

Xavier Mathieustarred chef in Joucas en Provence (84220): basil, herbs, olive oil (his own), lemon.

René and Maxime Bestthree-star chefs at La Bouitte in Saint-Martin-de-Belleville in Savoie: Maxime loves the butter that brings so much indulgence, René loves potatoes and mountain charcuterie.

Alain Pegouretstarred chef at the Sergent Recruteur in Paris (IVand): olive or avocado oil, onions, herring in oil, Kaviari® caviar, fleur de sel, herbs and spices.

Nicholas Sale, ex-starred chef of the Ritz de Paris: salt, pepper, eggs and dried pasta. His kitchen utensils and his notebooks which are also very precious to him.

Christian Sinicropistarred chef at Martinez in Cannes: marjoram for its flavor, olive oil, herbs and spices.

Jean-Francois Traptwo-star restaurant in its Grand Restaurant (VIIIand): a piece of parmesan, butter, mustard, salt and pepper.

Christopher Coutanceauthree-starred in La Rochelle: sea fish, risotto, spices, cooked ham, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Julien Dumaschef of the Château-Hôtel Saint-James in Paris (16thand): black garlic, sherry vinegar, honey and above all a good cauliflower.

Christian Etchebestchef of the Cantine du Troquet in Paris (VIand): eggs, garlic, Espelette pepper.

Nicholas Massetwo-star chef at Sources de Caudalie in Martillac (Gironde): caviar from Aquitaine, wild garlic, Basque specialties such as sheep’s cheese and Bayonne ham.

Alexandre Mazziathree-star restaurant AM in Marseille: all garden produce in season, lentils, spices, harissa and semolina.

Flora Mikulachef of the Auberge Flora in Paris (XIand): olive oil, Espelette pepper and fleur de sel.

Jean Pierre Vigatoex-starred chef at the Apicius restaurant in Paris (VIIIand): ground pepper, broth, herbs and vegetables.

Julien Gatillonchef of the restaurant Nous in Megève: mustard and fleur de sel.

Michel Guerardthree-star chef at Prés d’Eugénie in Eugénie-les-Bains (Landes): cheese, butter, mushrooms, fruits and vegetables of the day.

Cyril Lignac, owner of several restaurants and pastry shops in Paris: olive oil, salt, pepper and sugar. His knives!

Guy Martinchef of the Grand Véfour in Paris (Ier): butter, olive oil, seasonal vegetables, wild pepper from Madagascar, garlic, nuts and olives.

Glenn Vielthree-star chef at Oustau de Baumanière in Baux de Provence: vegetables from his vegetable garden and caramel flan.

Good cuisine is based on quality and the search for good basic products, a chosen, impeccable raw material. The ways of doing things, the recipes, the style of the chef come next. This is also called “market cuisine”, as Paul Bocuse said: seasonal products reflect the gifts of nature.

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Véronique André signs Little secrets of great chefs – Portraits and family recipes of the greats of gastronomy. Hatchet Kitchen. Illustrated edition. An excellent practical book. 288 pages. €25.95.

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