1. How long have you been working in a kitchen and what has been your best experience so far?
Iâ€™ve been working for 12 years already. My best experience was my first experience at the Hotel du Palais where I learned my trade at the age of 16. I started touching great products such as truffle and caviar and learned how to select these products. My father was also a chef so I wanted to do like daddy!
2. If you had to make a cheese, what would it taste like?
My cheese would taste like the Pyrennees, the mountains where I grew up. It would have a nice grass flavor and of course would be made of sheepâ€™s milk!
3. What amazes you the most in cheese?
What amazes me the most is the diversity and most importantly the affinage. For instance if we take a Valencay from the same cheese maker it could be very good but also a very bad one if the affinage is not done properly. The affinage is what amazes me the most, the affineur is the one that brings the best flavors out of the cheeses. I can see that when I go to the supermarket versus what I receive from Artisanal!
4. Do you think that people are very interested in cheese?
Veritas is a very particular restaurant as it is a wine centric restaurant. We have a 3,800 wine selection. People come first here to have great wines and then the dinner comes second. Here people are very interested in cheese to finish their nice bottle of wine.
5. Chef Gregory, you come from lâ€™Atelier de Joel Robuchon in NYC. How did you approach your menu here? Did you look at what has been done before?
I started from scratch. I did not look at what the former chefs did as I did not want to be influenced. In a week I came up with my seasonal menu and I believe we gave the restaurant a second breath, the dishes a little bit more modern. Itâ€™s a great challenge for me.
6. Do you have cheese or dessert when you go out?
In a high end restaurant Iâ€™m having the cheese course. In a little cafÃ©, bistro, casual places I usually take dessert except at Brasserie Cognac (55th & Bâ€™way) where I have cheese.
7. How do you compose your cheese plate at Veritas?
First, I always take a sheepâ€™s milk from where I come!
Second I decided to have only French cheeses: Beaufort, Comte, Abbaye de Tamie, Laguiole, Roquefort out of necessity though because our customers love their Roquefort with their Port but I myself not a huge fan of blue cheese.
With the sheepâ€™s milk cheese I always add a little bit of cherries or quince compote.
8. Do you think your cheese plate competes with your dessert?
Competing is not the right word. The competition would exist if we had a cheese trolley. Here as most of our customers buy great bottle of wines Iâ€˜d like them to have our cheese course so we ae pushing for the cheese plate.
9. Before arriving at Veritas, did you try to find out more about the restaurant?
I had been working for 6 years with Joel Robuchon and it was time to move on. Robert Parker one of the co-owner of the restaurant also contacted personally and I really appreciated the convivial approach. Working at Veritas has a family feel.
10.What has impressed you the most in NYC compare to the culture in France?
I was very impressed by the 3 Michelins stars restaurant in NYC. The execution is flawless even though the restaurants can make over 100 covers a night.
11. 2009 for your first at Veritas you receive your first Michelin star. What is the objective for 2010?
Weâ€™re going to work very hard to have the second! We have the best wine list in NYC, better than the 3 Michelin stars!
Veritas Restaurant is located at 43 E 20th St, New York, New York.