Daniel Galmiche, Michelin-starred chef and author of French Countryside Cooking, describes how growing up in the French countryside influenced his future career.

How has the French countryside shaped your career as a chef?

“Well, rather a lot due to the fact that we lived surrounding it at the foot of Vosges mountains.

“Also my great aunt had a smallholding, which provided us with great produce all year round. She was also a great cook and I helped a lot as we were over there every week.

“What a great time we had in our childhood! And it did stay with me all through my chef work. I am so close to nature, the seasons; without them, we cannot cook.”

Growing up, what was your favourite traditional food and why?

“A lot of different favourites, as my aunt was a great cook, and she taught my mum a lot. She was always baking fabulous cakes and cooking great dinners.

“But the real dinners were at Mum’s. She was amazing with game — as my dad used to hunt a lot, the freezer was always full of it and poultry from the farm.

“We had a beautiful vegetable garden and small orchard, so imagine my joy as a young teenager, always in the trees!”

What ingredients do you always have at home?

“Well, I always have lime, garlic, a lot of ginger, lemongrass. Plus, of course, whatever is in season as I buy from a farm so you get whatever is in season. So you have to be creative. It’s great fun!

“Of course, French butter, plus a great olive oil; as my wife is from Italian descent, it’s a must.”

What do you think is your most pleasing food creation and why?

“It’s difficult to speak about my most pleasing creation, it’s a tough word. But I would say that for me the season will guide me.

“As a lover of fish, and working with fish, I’d say this is my speciality.

“It pleases me a lot to be able to come up with a dish which in turn will be enjoyed and praised by diners. Then I will be happy with my work.”

Your book incorporates foods one might associate with other cuisines (such as lasagne). What is the reason for this?

“If you think of a thin sheet of butternut squash, or many thin slices that make up a gratin, the term ‘lasagne’ comes to mind as the process of constructing it.

“But there are many influences that go into a dish, many that come from my travels or from my wife making an Italian dish that I love; I start from there, and add a twist!”

If you were to entertain guests with a traditional French meal, what would it be and why?

“As a chef, you do think about this all the time. When you invite friends for lunch or dinner, you tend to do a classic dish, something fairly well known but [also] well loved.

“So it will be a sea salt baked sea bass with fennel and orange salad and sauce vierge, followed by a classic coq au vin, and finished with a lovely tarte tatin. Of course with accompanying wines!

“Those are classics, so great.”

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