The first time I learned of Pascal Gimenez, we were both in the audience during the Breakfast In the Barn series at Manaserro Farms. It took an introduction from former On the Line subject Tarit Tanjasiri at Pascal's spot (attached to American Rag Cie) before I learned how influential his upbringing was to his career choice.
Best culinary tip for the home cook:
Use your oven more. Saute first, then finish in the oven.
Where was your most recent meal?
At home in the Loire Valley. Blanquette de lapin [rabbit-stew variation of blanquette de veau] with hedgehog mushroom.
One stereotype about your industry, and whether it's true:
Groups of women always want separate checks. And yes, it's so true.
Most undervalued ingredient:
Sprouts are so undervalued. They are so yummy. One of my favorites is the pea sprout.
In addition to cooking, I heard about your love of pastry.
Pastry has always been a comfortable zone. Everything is weighed, like in the chemistry and physics courses I studied. This love started when I was a little kid, standing in the kitchen, waiting to lick the bowl my mum was giving me when she was preparing some delicious desserts. I love to make madeleines, tiramisu, creme brulee, tarts, etc. Nothing fancy — just comforting, traditional French desserts.
You're making breakfast; what are you having?
Homemade yogurt and jams, toast, fruit, and a cup of tea.
Is there a dish you'd like to learn how to make?
Pressed duck from La Tour D'Argent.
One food you can't live without:
Charcuterie and cheese. They are so good with a nice wine and pickles.
Favorite places to eat:
Le Grand Vefour [in Paris], Marche Moderne, Thai Nakorn.
What would be your last meal on Earth?
My mum's lapin à la moutarde [mustard rabbit].
[Editor's Note: Not to be confused with his favorite meal growing up, lapin à la moutarde aux de mouton, or mustard rabbit with hedgehog mushrooms.]
Most frequently asked question by guests:
Do you know you look like Matt Damon?
What's the one thing people didn't tell you about working in a restaurant?
Nothing. I grew up in that environment. I was clearly aware of those long hours, the hot kitchen and demanding guests. This is one of the reasons, when I was a kid, I was saying I would never work in a restaurant. You see, NOW . . .