In Norway, exploring uncharted territory
Damien began his journey in Norway at the Bekkjarvik Gjestgiveri restaurant, located on an island in the middle of a fjord. He landed there in what was for him totally uncharted territory and, at the time, with very little fluency in English. “This restaurant, for me, was totally unusual,” he says. “They served traditional fish soup and fish & chips for lunch, catering to the local fishermen, but also five-course gastronomic meals for their international yachting clientele, for whom this restaurant has become a must. This mix between good simple cooking and sophisticated cuisine really got me thinking and, today, I no longer make the distinction, in line with Chef Ørjan Johannessen’s approach. Whatever you’re making, you have to try and cook it as best as possible and to use and respect the best ingredients. The Chef constantly encouraged us to find new combinations and this freedom allowed me to experiment a great deal.”
Precision, quality and refinement
The next stop for Damien was in Belgium, where he returned to the roots and the traditions of classical gastronomy, using high-quality and noble ingredients prepared with care and refinement by Chef Ferdy Debecker and his brigade at the Eyckerhof restaurant in Bornem. “This is a remarkable place! It was the perfect complement to my previous experience, where I was totally integrated into a tight-knit team and given the opportunity of contributing to every part of the menu, from appetizers to desserts. It was an incredibly enriching experience!”
A lesson in history and the discovery of deep-seated roots
At the Talblick restaurant in Germany, run by Chef Claus Weitbrecht, Damien enthusiastically declares, “I found absolute bliss! An unbelievably kind family, very moving life lessons about helping others and a deep sense of history, from people who believe that being fraternal and helping others is something you do every day. I also found that the landscapes of the Black Forest reminded me of my native Auvergne.” As was the case in Norway, Damien discovered that the Talblick restaurant puts everyday cooking and gastronomy on an equal footing with gastronomic cuisine. The Weitbrecht family cooks traditional regional dishes with local products and Chef Claus Weitbrecht, who has cultivated his passion for culinary excellence since he was very young, proposes a very creative gastronomic menu a few evenings every week for an exclusive clientele. “He’s very open and shared a lot of his ideas with me, such as olive-oil ice cream. When you create a sublime link between old and new, you can reach the summits of taste and pleasure!”
Photo: Claude Fougeirol
Damien was born in Saint-Flour, Cantal. He grew up, worked and his family lives in the Cantal. He profoundly loves his birthplace, its history and his roots.
This integration has fashioned a sincere, uncomplicated person, with a joy of living. Yet Damien was aware that he had to find a way to rub shoulders with other backgrounds and cultures. The Boiron Frères Young Talents Trophy was the ideal opportunity. This blend of simplicity and sincerity, combined with undeniable talent, appealed to the jury. “Damien needs to discover the world!”, exclaimed Alain Boiron in the final.
His father is a quarry manager and tends a vegetable garden. His mother is a butcher, his aunt raises ducks, his uncle raises cattle and his brother is a farm worker. Damien will obviously remain strongly attached to his local “terroir” and its produce. But it is time for this young man, who has just turned eighteen, to leave and meet great chefs and discover new countries. He leaves with the love of his family, his area and its products, in a positive, and even playful, mindset.
He will probably introduce his favourite – ultra-French – recipe to the teams he will meet abroad: pan-fried foie gras with snails cooked in parsley butter, served with a beetroot and Granny Smith salad. It is the recipe of his favourite chef – Christophe Redon, at the Auberge du Château d’Alleuze – for whom he has worked for the past three years. “He’s a second father to me. He taught me all I know in the kitchen”. For Damien, whose greatest pleasure is to please others, the soul of this family establishment is priceless “The key for me is to ensure respect within the team, friendly and warm relations between the members of the kitchen and dining room staff, that customers are happy and taste the pleasure of being there, the pleasure of living”.
Photos : Umami, Ginko
Put the water, salt and butter in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to the boil to melt the butter and water together. Off the heat, add the flour and mix until it is completely absorbed. Dry the mixture out and add the eggs individually, making sure they are completely absorbed by the mixture each time. Pour into a plain piping bag and pipe out into the shape of a Paris-Brest (a crown).
Brush the crowns with the egg wash and back at 175°C for 13 minutes. Dry the crowns in the oven at 125°C for 20 minutes. Leave to cool on a rack.
|Flaked almonds||0,05 Kg|
|Red Label salmon||0,45 kg|
|Coarse salt||0,15 kg|
|Whole peppercorns (5)||0,01 kg|
|White balsamic vinegar||0,1 L|
If the salmon is whole, bone and fillet it.
In a tray, marinate the salmon in the coarse salt, whole peppercorns, sugar and chopped dill (2/3) for 1 1/2 hours.
Remove the marinade ingredients, remove the skin from the fillet.
Slice the salmon into small cubes and add the remaining chopped dill (1/3) and vinegar if the preparation is not flavoured enough.
Dry out the puree until it loses about 1/3 of its water.
Add the agar to the puree. Cool the preparation.
Beat the cream over ice until very firm.
Once the puree is set, whisk until smooth then fold in the whipped cream.
Rectify seasoning and keep cool in a fluted piping bag.
|Les vergers Boiron Butternut puree||0,500 kg|
Wash and sort the dill and spinach.
Remove the stems.
Blanch for 30 seconds.
Rapidly cool in iced water.
Process in the Thermomix®
Pour into a pipette and refrigerate.
Peel, wash and slice both types of carrot into wedges.
Blanch then cool in iced water.
Melt the Les vergers Boiron puree in a saucepan, add butter and cream if needed.
Wash and sort the sprigs of chervil and dill.
|Les vergers Boiron Beetroot puree||0,200 kg|