Chef Baptiste’s love for simple flavours has won him an early Michelin star
Baptiste Fournier’s first food memory is of a potato omelette. Nothing very fancy: just pan-fried potatoes, and eggs. He reckons he probably ate it when he was three or four. But it’s endured in his memory, for perhaps the same quality that he seeks in his food: simplicity.
The 30-year-old Michelin-starred chef was in Bangalore recently for a food-and-wine pairing, organised by Four Seasons Wines. Six courses of food he describes as “well-balanced” were paired with Indian wines. He explains that he structured the meal to alternate between fresh and “strong” flavours: for instance, a light eggplant caviar would be followed by a rich risotto parmesan with truffles and artichokes. At dessert, a pineapple-basil concoction was to contrast with a chocolate-hazelnut-coffee ice-cream.
“You don’t need to put too many things into your food,” he says. “Just a few things, carefully selected.”
At 30, Baptiste is one of the younger chefs to have achieved the kind of renown he has.
He took over his family’s restaurant, La Tour, at 29, and got his Michelin Star in 2011. But he’s also quick to acknowledge that the changing global economy is affecting the running of an elite restaurant. “We were offering 90 tables at first,” he recollects. “Then we had to cut down, due to staff shortages – now it’s about 45 people.”
The Michelin star award has led to about a quarter more customers than he usually gets, he estimates. What else does the star signify to him? “Quality,” he asserts. “I had privately hoped I would get one, but I knew that at 30 I was too young.” While his youth and energy helped him, he says he has a long way to go.
Meanwhile, he’s going to stick to his simple, flavourful fare.
And at home, on his own time, he prefers a simple meal of al dente pasta, with good olive oil and good parmesan. “You don’t need anything else,” he repeats.