Tarn: In Lempaut, chefs Emma and Antoine believe in their star

the essential
Passed by renowned houses, the couple from the south of Tarn, one in the kitchen, the other in pastry, has been leading a gourmet and creative castle life for two years. Their express success pushes them to aim higher.

Cooking is not just a city affair where the stars are piling up in the metropolises. The countryside and its villages are full of good addresses and one need only take the example of the Auberge du Vieux Puits in Fontjoncouse (Aude), that of Gilles Goujon (3 stars), to demonstrate that one can make a village shine thanks to talented culinary inspirations.
This is the ambition of Emma Destruel and Antoine Sallier, on the banks of the Sor, in Lempaut and its 900 inhabitants. It is here, at the Château de la Bousquetarié, property of the Salliers that the young couple opened their restaurant on June 29, 2020.

“Our goal is to make it a big House. We have a long way to go, we are aware of it, but we are young”

“Basically we wanted to leave with Emma in a van for a tour of France of producers and cooks. But the confinement has arrived… ”The project falls through but another will soon see the light of day. After a confinement lived in the elegant family castle, the idea of ​​transforming the ground floor into an ephemeral restaurant takes shape, under the name of the Intangible. “One evening in bed, I thought of this word, beautiful and poetic. I had read in an interview with Alain Ducasse who explained that the intangible was the part of the cook’s emotion. It’s the soul that hides behind the dish, ”explains Antoine, 29, Castrais who grew up in Albi, before working at Le Meurice for Alain Ducasse and then in restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia.

Reluctant at the beginning in front of a possible success, the duo of chefs saw their reservations boosted by the echoes of the local press for the opening of their establishment. The weeks and months pass, word of mouth spreads throughout the Tarn and Lauragais and the reservations diary is visibly blackened. “We wanted to take risks, we had this need to express ourselves. It’s a freedom and a life project”, presents Emma, ​​24, who studied at the Plaza Athénée, who turned to sweets early on.

“We needed to express ourselves”

Two years later, the Intangible is an address noted for the cuisine and the setting, where the charm of the old, the traditional, with a touch of modernity and this “twist” which gives pep to the dishes, in a surprise menu served to customers (allergies, without meat, etc., to be specified when booking). From the ephemeral to the local effect, where local products are the stars of the plate, Antoine’s cuisine has found its audience, even with celebrities (see box). With this philosophy: “Products sourced as much as possible, local, seasonal, far from intensive farming or from sustainable fishing. It is a reflection of common sense, ecological, ethical. A creative cuisine with taste”, presents the Castrais.

If the roles are well defined with Emma in pastry and Antoine in the kitchen, “we are always in discussion, I give ideas to Antoine and he always brings a touch in pastry. There is no barrier, the pastry must resemble its cuisine and vice versa for a balanced menu,” says the chef.

Soon a reward?

Still ignored by the Michelin Guide, the couple, who met at Pierre Lambinon’s Nino brasserie in Toulouse, don’t put pressure on themselves. Even if he hopes one day to obtain a first reward. “Michelin stars have always made us dream. From the moment we play in a gastronomic category, if we are rewarded one day, it would be wonderful. To say that we only work for that is not true. We don’t put pressure on ourselves, it mustn’t become an obsession and slow down creativity”, notes Emma, ​​who spends her days “off” with Antoine in starred restaurants “to open her mind. , feed on ideas and be inspired. “A restaurant is an experience, from the first step to payment,” continues Antoine.

That of the Intangible, the entrance gate, the crossing of the gravel road that leads to the huge canvas as an exterior roof, to the tasty bites that flatter the taste buds, is worth the detour.

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