Kitchen spy: Christophe Gregoire of Le Tres Bon
Best dessert: Vacherin. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
What I'm loving now
I went outside into the garden this morning and look what I found. It's spring time, we haven't got much vegetables yet but we have the French lavender that I'm going to use to make ice cream. It's got a beautiful light, fresh flavour. We've got fresh thyme, oregano, peppermint which is great to make chocolate desserts, rosemary. And then the rhubarb. This is the secret in the kitchen - we always use the product that's in the season, that's what we call the terroir, the connection in the ground and what you've got in the season.
Truffle is always my favourite. Two weeks ago I went to Tuscany to find white truffles. We found two good white truffles, the aroma was amazing, very, very subtle, sweet, delicate. We made a beautiful dish with it. I hope one day we can get this truffle here in Australia. At this stage I'm only cooking the black truffles, the French Perigord truffle, but that's my first ingredient in the kitchen - the truffle.
This is a traditional French dessert - vacherin. Traditionally it's made with raspberries and vanilla ice cream, home made of course. But because we have lavender in the garden I make a lavender ice cream and it's perfect for vacherin. There are two rings of fresh meringue, the ice cream in the middle and on the outside the creme Chantilly piped on the outside. And for decoration a fresh lavender flower on top and raspberry sauce. Voila.
What I can't live without? I've always got my old tools. I bought this knife when I was 15 years old when I went to the hospitality school, where I was an apprentice. It's a beautiful French knife with a wooden handle. There's the nutmeg grater. The truffle shaver is made from olive wood. The melon baller makes perfect pommes Parisiennes, round potatoes. This is the butter [curler] to cut beautiful curls of butter. This one to check that the cakes are cooked.
The perfect trip
I started in Gerardmer, in Lorraine near Alsace, and every year I invite people to come with me on a food and wine tour. It's a very important place for me, it's where I started my career and I'm so proud to share it with everybody.
What I'm drinking
French wine, of course. Emmanuel Giboulet's En Gregoire 2012 bourgogne. It's a very subtle wine, very delicate. Haut Faugeres Saint-Emilion grand cru 2009. The grapes are cabernet and merlot, this is a different region and terroir, this one goes with beef or venison or something with red meat. Another favourite wine is Chateauneuf-du-Pape, which is a very deep and sophisticated red wine.
My last memorable meal
I had just a simple dish, fresh mozzarella with buffalo milk, so very, very creamy, and just a shave of white truffle on top and a bit of olive oil. Just succulent, simple. Again, part of the terroir.
When I'm at home
My wife Josephine is the cook and she's a beautiful cook. She generally makes a lot of fresh vegetables from the garden, so we've got a lot of spinach at the moment and nice meat. Or a pasta with home made tomato sauce.
With food it was always my grandmother. She always was looking after me when I was a small child. I was always with her in the garden or with my grandfather in the forest picking mushrooms, the girolle, the morelle, the trumpet de la mort. So that was my inspiration. There was no electricity in the farm, it was an old farm built in 1669 and it was always the wood stove with just four spots to put your pots. There was always something slow cooked on the fire for four or five hours while we were outside. We always had something natural, like coq au vin, chocotte. She didn't teach me how to cook. In this time there was something very, very natural [about cooking], people didn't talk about it, cooking was just part of living. It was nothing fancy - you just had to eat something. But everything was organic, because there was only manure in the garden, the cow manure from the farm. Nothing else.