Jean-Denis Rieubland, Meilleur Ouvrier de France, has spent the last 31 years in restaurants, honing his skills at prestigious establishments such as the historic La Tour d’Argent in Paris, and earning two Michelin stars at the helm of Le Chantecler at the Hotel Le Negresco in Nice.
Now the Executive Chef of Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa, Chef Rieubland heads up both Le Bellevue and Le Royal, which was recently awarded its first Michelin star just six months after opening. France Today catches up with him to learn what inspires his cuisine, his tips for cooking at home, and his plans for the future.
Can you tell us about how you came to be where you are today, and what inspired you to follow a career in gastronomy?
In this business we need two essential qualities – motivation and perseverance. What motivates me in my career is the desire to please people.
Do you have any dishes from childhood that you still love to eat now?
I love to eat lapin à la moutarde (rabbit with mustard) which my dad cooked, it really reminds me of the convivial family meals when I was younger.
What is the creative process behind your menus and where do you find your inspiration?
My inspiration comes from the product and its freshness.
You spent many years working in the south of France, including at the Hotel Le Negresco in Nice. How has moving to Champagne changed your cuisine?
It has not changed my vision of cooking but I have adapted to new products, the regional products of Champagne. I think it’s important to make the most of what each terroir has to offer!
What are your favourite ingredients to work with?
I particularly appreciate the products of the autumn season such as porcino mushrooms, game…
Which food is your weakness?
I do not really have a dish. What is important for me is good cuisine made from fresh seasonal produce.
How much of your produce is sourced locally and how important is this to you?
For me it is important to work with local producers and involve them. I am always on a perpetual quest for a safer diet with reduced pesticides, quality products, and respect for the environment.
Le Royal was recently awarded its first Michelin star, less than six months after opening. What do you have planned next for the restaurant?
Logically, a second star.
With the current concerns about sustainability, how do you tackle this problem in your kitchens?
By working with local producers, we know the origin and quality of the products. We work a lot with seasonal products.
Are there any other French chefs, past or present, who you admire, or who inspire your work?
I really like Philippe Jourdin (at Terre Blanche Hôtel Spa Golf Resort) for his Mediterranean cuisine, and Manuel Martinez (at Relais Louis XIII).
Can you share any secrets with our readers for cooking at home? Maybe tips on something most of us get wrong, or the one piece of kitchen equipment that you recommend we all have?
The key ingredient is to choose good products and secondly, to respect them during preparation and cooking.
For entertaining guests at home, how can our readers elevate a meal from everyday to something special?
Doing things simply. Simplicity and discipline are essential to make an ordinary recipe a real feast.
What would be your perfect French meal?
The typical French menu in my opinion is the signature menu served at the restaurant Le Royal, which includes dishes such as roasted Dublin Bay prawns with Espelette chili pepper and crispy calf’s head with rocket leaves, turbot with seaweed butter, artichokes and baby carrots, solferino of seasonal vegetables and French parsley, and to finish lemon baba, rosé champagne, strawberry sorbet and Sanbitter.
Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa, 9 Rue de la République – Hameau de, Rue de Bellevue, 51160 Champillon, Tel: +33 (0)3 26 52 87 11