This is the second installment in a two-part interview with chef Cesar Troisgros. You can find the first installment here.
The Daily Meal: What is important for a cook to develop?
Cesar Troisgros: Every cook needs to develop his own story, his own identity, and no matter what it is or looks like you have to own it. You can get inspired by others but you have to interpret your way. Last year we finally got in to Noma after trying to get a reservation for four years. Finally when we gave up and thought it's not happening and thought ‘Well, Noma and the food probably looked similar to pictures in his book,’ we got a reservation.
When I dined there I was very curious as to what it would be like and I have to say from the beginning to the end it was the best meal I have had so far. The atmosphere and the experience, from the moment when you enter the door to the very end, are exceptional. Redzepi is a genius and really understands that a restaurant experience is not just about dining, and when you go to Noma, he takes you into his own world. Even the service was exceptional and we found it a learning experience. Rene is such a nice person—not just a great cook but very humble and real. Maybe one day for one week I will get a chance to work there.
Do you travel to food events around the world?
We are selective, but I have been twice to Bangkok, San Francisco, New York, and Montreal. In fact, my father and I were in New York in March, and last October I was cooking at the Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok for a week-long event.
When you were in Spain, which chefs did you become acquainted with?
The Roca family for me is the best, as they are a really nice family and all the three brothers are extremely talented. I worked there at the old location and they moved to the present location while I was there. It was crazy; the lunch service was at the old location and then the dinner service at the new one on the same day. We moved everything in the afternoon and in a truly Spanish fashion, no one had tested out the ovens, stoves, or other equipment and we just nonchalantly served 50 or 60 guests that evening.
Any other amusing incidents from that time?
I used to live upstairs in Jordi Roca's old room during the eight months I spent there. Every afternoon after service, I would walk through Can Roca and Montserrat, their mother, would make snacks for me as she is very affectionate and nice. The staff is like part of the family and they could go to Can Roca all through the day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. and Montserrat cooked for everyone. I felt like I was part of the family and have very fond memories of that time. They took care not only of me but of everyone there and even now with all their success and stardom they’re still the same. It comes naturally to them and from their human values, and I think after you learn to cook what's more important is where you go to work.
What is an important factor in choosing where you work or stage?
You go to a place not only for the work or for the chef; you go for the personality and the atmosphere. You can choose to go to a palace or a small place, but it depends on you or whatever it is you are looking for. In the following years you will use what you see and what you retain from your experience.
Are you involved in the planning for the move to the new location of Maison Troisgros?
I am part of the whole process, along with my parents. My father and I have worked on the plans for everything; the kitchen, the décor—though my mother is taking care of it. If I have a suggestion about decor I am careful with how I approach my mother with it (laughing) and any way she knows better. It a sense of responsibility for Leo and myself that our parents are establishing this new base for us. I am very excited and very proud of my parents for taking on this huge venture and the risk for us.