Lunch service at one of France’s most renowned restaurants, every participant plays a carefully orchestrated role. You might need a second glance and a close hear to spot the Grand Dame behind it all. She’s everywhere, from start to finish, bringing edible masterpieces to life.
Always I am thinking about the combination of flavors. It can be an obsession.
She’s part chef, architect and scientist.
It’s interesting in the kitchen not to use only acidity but bitterness is very interesting too
In an industry dominated by men, this chef d’cuisine stands out from the pack. As the first female chef in more than fifty years awarded the coveted maximum three star Michelin honor and only the fourth woman ever to win the top award, she remembers vividly the moment she found out.
When you have the call of course a lot of emotion, I was with my husband. And it’s like, like in five minutes, you remember the twenty years. It’s incredible.
This tour de force in the world of gastronomy is Anne- Sophie Pic. Paris, beloved tourist destination and food lover’s playground but some four hundred and eighty kilometers away in the south eastern corner of the country, the small town Valence is home to a culinary gem of its own, the world- renowned Maison Pic. It’s here we find fourth generation chef Anne-Sophie Pic, at the restaurant that’s been in her family since 1889.
Since she took over ten years ago, Madame Pic has led this dynasty to a whole new level. She and her husband, David, carefully selected every piece in the exquisite dining room, from the Baccarat crystals to the fine Belgian linens. The main focus of course, is the food.
And what is very important too is to think about the way people are going to taste the dish. She’s considered an unlikely top chef, first as a woman in a testosterone dominated industry and second for her soft-spoken, almost shy demeanor.
Anne-Sophie, do you believe there is a glass ceiling for women.
I was thinking like that at the beginning, the very beginning. I was thinking that to be woman was an inconvenience, a major inconvenience because this job you need to be very strong, mentally, physically. The profession was not ready to accept a woman at this level of cuisine. But little by little, finally, I acknowledged that it was something very strong. because it’s another way of thinking cuisine. Little bit different, another way of managing people also.
Pic is chef who prizes emotion in her food over technique.
I think all my emotions are feminine so I give this feminine way in my cuisine of course.
So it’s no surprise that her food is considered feminine in its taste and presentation. She’s also known for her vegetable and fish preparations. Here she plates a pinwheel of asparagus spears, accented with anchovies and caviar.
How’s your cuisine evolved over the years?
I think it has evolved very close to my own evolution. I was married but I was without child so I became a mother. Also my character, I’m never satisfied with my work so of course it helps me to change my dishes, to improve my dishes.
That drive to perfect her menu and show up her brand means Pic’s reach goes well beyond the family restaurant. Her empire includes a five star boutique hotel, a delicatessen serving the family champagne and wine label, and Scook, her own cooking school, which she closes at least a morning a week to experiment in her kitchen.
Today, Anne-Sophie Pic sits at the top of the culinary world but it was actually a painful experience that propelled her to the industry. We’ll learn more about Pic in the coming weeks. How her bond with family pushed her to achieve what she and many others never expected.