After seeing this sweet French film recently, Haute Cuisine, (which I loved and recommend if mainly for Catherine Frot's beautifully strong leading performance and the delicious culinary scenes), I couldn't help but take a peek at the article on the new book out by the head man in the main kitchen of the palace.
Chef Bernard Vaussion, who's been employed in the Elysee Palace's main kitchen since 1974 and is retiring Wednesday, has published a memoir: La Cuisine de l'Elysee: a la Table des Presidents.
According to the film (based on the true story of a country woman from the Perigord, real name Daniele Mazet-Delpeuch, sought after by Francois Mitterand to be his personal chef in the palace's smaller, private kitchen), the men of the palace's main kitchen (so Monsieur Vaussion?) caused her some grief.
In an interview with Mazet-Delpeuch in the New Zealand Herald, when asked how difficult it was to work in such a male-dominated arena, she replied, "When I am in the kitchen, I am the boss and some people didn't like that." About the film, she states that it was well done and that "the atmosphere of the palace kitchen was portrayed in a very real way; hard but also very enjoyable to be the president's private chef."
Mazet-Delpeuch has spent time this year touring for promotion of the film. But lest you think she is self-serving in her pursuit, when asked about her next adventure, she answers that she is considering "a project that has been presented to me that involves teaching young, orphaned Indian women to cook so that they may have some hope for their future and be able to support themselves."
"Cooking has never been a career for me--it is a passport for adventures."
In his book, Vaussion details the eating habits of each of the six French heads he worked under from Georges Pompidou to the current Francois Hollande.
In case you're interested:
Pompidou (1969-74) preferred traditional French cooking, heavy and rich like Boeuf Bourgignon.
Valery Giscard d'Estaing (1974-81) was partial to lighter, healthier fare and loved scrambled eggs with truffle sauce.
Mitterand (1981-95) adored Breton oysters, the finest foie gras and caviar.
Jacques Chirac (1995-2007) was famous for his love of veal's head (or Tete de Veau).
Nicolas Sarkozy (2007-12) also preferred healthy food in keeping with his trim figure. But with the recession, he took it upon himself to remove the most expensive caviar and cheeses from the menu (except when Angela Merkel came to visit!)
Francois Hollande (2012-present), a chocolate and wine lover, has put cheese back on the menu. Apparently also a huge fan of the American cheeseburger, maybe that's just been too much for M. Vaussion.
(Article by Catherine Viette from France24.com)
(Interview by Nici Wickes in The New Zealand Herald)
(Mazet-Delpeuch's book Here)