Chef Didier Lamotte, in the kitchens of Le Phoebus restaurant in Foix for 45 years, has just passed the milestone of 50 years in the kitchen. A long career filled with passion and the desire to pass on know-how.
Didier Lamotte, who celebrated his 66th birthday on Friday October 21, started in the kitchens at the age of 16. 50 years of a job that has become his passion. Fuxean stoves no longer hold any secrets for him. “I must be one of the last of the Ariège dinosaurs. I began my career at the La Barbacanne hotel in Foix, which was starred. Its German chef at the time explained to me the rigor of the profession for two years. This is where my passion for cooking was born”, remembers Didier Lamotte.
Then the chef, born in Paris and now from Ariège by adoption, obtained his diplomas and chained experiences as a chef or associates. “During all this time, I worked for the first time at the Phoebus, for seven years, with a former owner, he says. I left to finally come back and buy the establishment, which was not in a great shape. I’ve owned it for about 35 years now.”
Didier Lamotte has transformed Le Phoebus over the years. This gastronomic restaurant has become a must in the Ariège landscape, both for the content of its plates and for the breathtaking view of the Château de Foix, which make customers spend magical evenings.
“This terrace and its bay windows are a major asset. Some customers come above all for this view. When it comes to cooking, I’ve always wanted to cook locally. The cheese comes from Saint-Girons, the meats from Ariège, the fish of the Region and the primeur is also local. I work in a short circuit and my goods are renewed every day. I give a taste of the Ariège heritage, which is rich and must be defended”, he specifies.
Today, chef Lamotte works with a kitchen assistant, an intern, a butler and from time to time with interns in the dining room. A small team for a room that does not have more than forty seats, the impression of being at home. “It never interested me to make 70 or 80 covers. I prefer to focus on the customer’s plate. And when he tells you ‘chef, the dish is excellent’, we are happy”, indicates Didier Lamotte.
Transmitting its know-how to future generations
If passion has been driving Didier Lamotte for more than 50 years, putting his knowledge to the benefit of young people is also his main objective.
“When I was 16 or 17 years old, the former cooks did not want to show their know-how too much. Today I try to pass on my knowledge, assures the chef. We must perpetuate this beautiful profession. There are many young people in the CFA, who disappear very quickly when entering the professional world, it’s a shame.” In addition to his chef hat, Didier Lamotte works with young people from the Camel vocational high school in Saint-Girons and the CFA in Foix. The opportunity for the restaurateur to give valuable advice to future cooks. If there is no starred chef in the department, the story of Didier Lamotte could inspire some.