The Wordrobe gets up close and professional with Matthieu Hervé, Head Chef of Restaurant de Montcaud in the stunning Château De Montcaud.
We speak with Hervé to find out more about his innovative approach to food and why he thinks a “traditional yet original!”cooking style is the secret to culinary success
What inspired you to become a chef?
Cooking has been my passion from an early age. I never liked school so I was desperate to get out and work as soon as possible.
My uncle worked for Ducasse in Monaco, which showed me what I could aspire to with the right attitude and a lot of hard work.
Where did you train? Tell us more about your culinary background…
I first trained in my hometown Gisors, in Normady, and went on to Nice in the South of France where I spent five formative years at two-Michelin-starred Restaurant Le Chantecler at Hotel Negresco.
I then got lucky and was accepted by Daniel Boulud to work at his restaurant in Montréal, Maison Boulud.
Here I really learnt to buckle down and work hard for what I want to achieve. From Montreal I transferred to the eponymous two-star restaurant Daniel in New York where I experienced more of his general attitude which only deepened my respect for Boulud.
After New York, I came back to Europe, to Basel in Switzerland, where I worked under Peter Knogl at his three-star restaurant Cheval Blanc. Knogl taught me to pay attention to detail and not settle for any less than perfection.
What’s your favourite summer dish?
It would have to be a fresh Gaspacho, made from heirloom tomatoes. Or maybe a beef tartar. Simple.
What can guests expect from a meal at Château De Montcaud?
Traditional French cuisine with a twist! Everything is seasonal and fresh, and definitely home-made.
Do you have any role models?
Daniel Boulud. It is not easy for the French to succeed abroad, but he definitely has. He has achieved so much through his hard work, and still manages to keep a family atmosphere even through the vast success of his 17 restaurants.
His cuisine is inspirational – traditional dishes, well-prepared and generous.
Describe your cooking style in three words.
Traditional yet original!
What does hospitality mean to you?
The dinner table is above all, a place to relax at. Respect for the customer as well as the products are the foundation of our profession. And above all, it is imperative to enjoy aiming to please.
Name three of your top restaurants.
1 Hotel de Ville, Crissier – I always dreamt of working there one day.
2 Restaurant Jean-Georges, NY – this is where I’ve had the best meal ever.
3 La Villa Madie, Cassis – the most beautiful restaurant I have been to
What advice would you offer to aspiring chefs?
“Make it nice or make it twice”, meaning work hard and always aspire to perfection!
Finally… what’s your favourite midnight snack?
As I don’t really snack, it would have to be a nice glass of Côte de Rhône.