Stéphanie Le Quellec is a Parisian chef and entrepreneur: already at the head of her two-star restaurant, La Scène, and of a delicatessen, Mam, she opened a fish restaurant, Vive, in October 17e borough.
“I never ate in a starred restaurant before I was 19, I did not come from this seraglio. I came to the kitchen through the culture of sharing the family table, through my mother and my grandmother who prepared the meals. Sweetbread embodies the classic cuisine in which I grew up. Even if I must say that I hated the way my mother prepared it: with morels, simmered, overcooked, not caramelized enough. I had a revelation when I worked at the George-V, where Philippe Legendre offered a large apple of golden, crispy sweetbreads, a three-star version. I built myself between these two cuisines.
Ever since I became a chef, sweetbreads have never left my menu. That it is a tripier product – therefore segmenting – excites me a little. I choose a nice apple of veal sweetbread that I poach in a broth, then I force its coloring in a pan with semi-salted butter. It should be crispy on the outside and soft inside. Then I glaze it with a veal jus and then a kalamansi vinegar gel [agrume d’Asie du Sud-Est] very tangy, to break the fatty side. At the moment, it is simply placed on poivrade artichokes sliced a minute, as thin as cigarette paper.
“Re-humanize it all”
It’s me who pans the sweetbreads. If my restaurant is open, I am present and I do not put myself in the past [pour vérifier l’exécution des plats], I take care of the cooking. I’m not in the kitchen, I cook. I led brigades of fifty people in the past, I sometimes found myself doing more paperwork than cooking, being a conductor. I turned 40 nine months ago and it may be a realization related to age: I asked myself the question of how I want to do my job. I need to cook, in a carnal way. I want to re-humanize all that, to pass on my knowledge to the young people around me. I no longer need to demonstrate anything through my dishes. The cook’s ego has been erased over the years to offer a simpler, almost minimalist cuisine.
Today, I see myself as an innkeeper, I want to share a moment in my dining room with my customers. At La Scène, I receive them like at home, which gives rise to a certain intimacy: my team no longer calls me “chief” but by my first name. Some days, I don’t even put on my white jacket, I cook in a blouse. I want the customer to come out of my house thinking: “Through this mushroom tartlet, I felt that Sunday lunchtime moment when Stéphanie prepares a quiche with her children. In this iodized jelly, I perceived her meeting with her Breton husband…”
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