The following interview is with Executive Chef Vincent Menager of Hotel Sofitel
When did you decide you would work in a kitchen?
I started working at 13 in a bakery. When I started my Hotel school, I went to the work in a kitchen and that was then that I decided I would never leave it.
What is the most interesting part of your work?
Teaching my staff about new dishes that will please my customers.
There is this kitschy expression: if you canâ€™t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Have you ever felt that way?
I deal very well with pressure. I work even better with it! I think itâ€™s never hot enough!
What is your greatest rewarding moment as Executive Chef at Hotel Sofitel?
There are few great rewarding moments; however two of the greatest are when I have customers that thank me for the experience, or some come to ask me for the recipe of the dish. This does not happen all the time but it did in the past…
Do you have cheese or dessert when you go out?
Sometimes cheese, sometimes dessert, sometimes cheese and dessert!
Has the diversity and quality of cheese evolved in the restaurant industry?
Very much so. People enjoy more matured and more complex cheeses nowadays.
Do you remember one of the first cheese plates you tasted when you arrived in the US?
My feeling was H..y S..t! We have a lot of work to do! There was a Brie out of the can, a blue cheese out of a bag, a goat cheese log and one that I prefer trying to forget about it, it was that badâ€¦
Could you describe what youâ€™re looking for when creating your cheese plate?
I am looking for a palette of flavors, acidity, saltiness, texture and presentation. All the flavors also need to come together as complexity is important.
What is your favorite cheese in winter?
Do you feel your cheese plate is competing with your desserts?
No. They compliment each other.
What amazes you in cheese in general?
The most interesting is that they all start from one common matter, milk but then the diversity is unbelievable!
If you had to make a cheese what would it taste like?
I would make one out of goatâ€™s milk. I would work on the saltiness, creaminess. I would use the milk in September add a little bit of spice. I would do something smooth but you will remember about it.
Is there a cheese you would have loved to make, create?
Do you think customers are daring enough?
More and more people are willing to try new things. We however still run a business so we have to be careful about the way we present to them.
About Gaby restaurant, what changes have you made?
I arrived 5 years ago as a line cook and it was perfect for me so I had time to learn the culture from the inside. As an Executive Chef I tried to bring more French Culture, the feeling of what the French technique can bring to a kitchen.
What do you have to say to our readers?
Enjoy cheese! Artisanal Cheese!Posted by Nicholas Scipione