Interview with Chef Anne-Sophie Pic: why winning a London Michelin star matters
Anne-Sophie Pic, France's only female chef with three stars gains her first star in London and discusses flavour, Bermondsey, unusual spices, cheese and silver shoes
It’s a big deal for her to feel accepted in London despite long being the only female chef to hold three Michelin stars in France for her family restaurant Maison Pic in Valence and she’s endearingly modest.
'Michelin has always been part of my story, we’ve had the restaurant in Valance for four generations but we’ve never taken stars for granted, explains Pic. “It was certainly not a given that we could win one here in London. Stars still matter a lot and bring many new customers to the restaurant'
'It’s tougher here too. The London gastronomic scene is so much more fast-moving than in Paris with so many more new openings, ' enthuses Pic.
What inspires Pic most has always been the produce, not just the quality and taste but forming strong human relationships with the producers here in the UK. 'Although, I’m all about precision on the plate, I bring my emotions too.' Pic has not only gone down traditional routes in sourcing ingredients. 'In France we think we are the best in terms of cheese, but I have been mightily impressed by Neal’s Yard Cheese, especially Colston Bassett stilton.' She praises too the passion of Amir Gehl of Difference Coffee whose rare terroir coffees are revered like First Growth wines.
Surprisingly, Pic waxes lyrical about discovering the decidedly grungy Spa Terminus high foodie hub in the backstreets of Bermondsey, especially Little Bread Pedlar, Prufock Coffee and Jensen’s Gin. Here she has found a brilliant importer of spices including an Ethiopian spice completely new to her: korarima, rather like a smoked cardamom. Partnered unconventionally with grouse and Batak berry, Nikka whisky, artichoke and blackberry, this is the must try dish on her autumn menu. It epitomizes her intuitive approach to flavour only fully understood in the eating.
First time visitors should try too her signature starter of berlingots – based on the shape of a sweet she loved as a child. They are made with a matcha tea flavoured pasta filled with watercress and Pelardon goat’s cheese and a sophisticated sauce made with mushroom consommé, Voatsiperifery pepper, tonka bean and citrus.
Like fellow newcomer to London, Martha Ortiz of Ella Canta, creating her own style sartorially in and out of the kitchen matters to Pic too. She’s proud of the more fitted chef’s jacket she’s designed for traditional industry outfitter Bragard and equally happy to discuss the pleasures of glittery silver trainers.
'Ultimately, life is all about developing creativity,' concludes Pic.
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