Chef interview: Guy Gautier at Bistro Gautier, Harpenden
PUBLISHED: 16:24 15 May 2019 | UPDATED: 09:58 09 January 2020
We spoke to head chef-owner at Bistro Gautier in Harpenden about his style, favourite dishes and much more
Describe your style
I use both traditional and modern cooking methods to create classic French cuisine. I work with big bold flavours that can be well balanced and presented with a light delicate touch.
How do you decide your menu?
Menu writing is one of the best parts of my job. I start with a rough idea of proteins and then it's all about delving into seasonal produce and playing with flavour combinations to see how they gel. Experimentation is key and why being a chef is so exciting.
What local producers do you use?
We're very lucky to have fruit and veg wholesalers E.S Hulse & Son across from us. They're very resourceful in finding beautiful local produce. We also have a great local gentleman who brings us quinces from his tree and another the biggest marrows you'll ever see!
Which menu dish do you most enjoy preparing?
Our Ballotine De Volaille is a rolled boneless chicken dish stuffed with a smoked bacon, prune and chicken mousseline. It has a few processes from start to finish and is a great one to be getting on with while thinking about what's coming up next on the calendar.
What ingredient is most important to your cooking?
Being a French restaurant, it has to be garlic! There's so many ways in which we use it here and it really is irreplaceable. We slow roast it, make great oils, flavour our stocks and sauces with it. It goes on and on. It's a real French staple.
Your best culinary idea?
That's quite a difficult question to answer. If I had to pick, it would be pairing scallops with light, puffy, pork crackling. It's a winner.
Who did you train under and what did they teach you?
I was lucky enough to train under my father Mark Gautier. He was, and still is, my inspiration. The fountain of knowledge he had to share was just incredible. I wouldn't be half the chef I am today without him.
The next food trend?
It's starting to get a little warmer, so I think we're going to see a lot of beautiful and interesting vegan salads coming on to menus using big bold flavours and pairing foods we're not used to seeing together. I believe they'll be the trendy healthy go-to this spring.
What's in your fridge at home?
Peppers, hot sauces, spinach, eggs and cheese of course.
Favourite quick meal?
It would probably have to be fajitas. It gets all the veggies in, the protein, carbs and hot sauce.
Top three tips for amateur cooks?
Taste as you go, experiment and just enjoy it.
Classic Koffmann - 50 Years a Chef by Pierre Koffmann. A fantastic book, great insight into him, great recipes and great methods.