Parisian Chef David Toutain: ‘That's My Life,’ Part 1

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“The chef cooking in the kitchen is speaking to the guest with his dish and conveying his thoughts”

Chef David Toutain.

Seen often at food events like Madrid Fusion, Omnivore Paris, SS Gastronomika, or special collaborations with other international luminaries like the All-Star Chefs Classic in Los Angeles or an upcoming San Pellegrino event in Mexico City, David Toutain has arrived!

One morning as the kitchen was prepping for the lunch service we sat down with chef Toutain to talk about the exciting happenings in his life:

The Daily Meal: What was your initial reaction to the news about the Michelin star and does it put more pressure to perform?
Chef David Toutain:
I got a phone call and my first reaction was total surprise. As always a week before they are announced there is conversation in the industry and conjecture about the upcoming announcement. Even though I didn't want to listen or be drawn into the talk it is hard to do that. I was very excited when I heard the news and before anything I was happy for my team because we are all working very hard and very focused on our work. The Michelin star does not put more pressure and it’s just as we first opened — we cook, go about our routines, and don't think much about it. It's good motivation and a pat on the back saying good job and keep going.

With long hours in the restaurant, are you able to balance your professional and personal life?
I come in very early at 7:30 or 8:00 a.m. and finish at about 1:00 a.m., so it's definitely long hours. Luckily we live right above the restaurant so it's good for our son because I can enjoy breakfast with him and my wife and sometimes I get to drop him at school. He is just four and a half and in the afternoon we manage to spend time outdoors, eat a burger, or play, and then I also get to sneak upstairs to kiss him goodnight . I would say that I am lucky to have that balance. The Michelin star does not put more pressure and it’s just as we first opened — we cook, go about our routines, and don't think much about it.

You travel to a lot of events around the world like the All-Star Chefs Classic in Los Angeles earlier this year. Do you like to travel to such events?
For me the experience begins not when I arrive somewhere but at the airport when I begin my journey. It was great to arrive in Los Angeles meet a lot of friends and experience the food there. The event was very well-organized and we never speak much about these things but they are very important for those participating. I loved the idea of cooking in the middle of the stage surrounded by spectators and diners all around. It was a very nice way to connect with people in this stadium setting.

Due to the rampant use of social media in the restaurant industry, a picture of your dish is out moments after it reaches the diner. Does that impact your creative process?
It doesn't affect anything really. Here we have our own small world and we don't focus too much on what is going on outside. I like Twitter myself since it's quick and easy without too much blah blah blah. I like to tell my guests to focus on what we are doing. When we work on a new plate we put our thoughts and emotions into it and we like for them to have a conversation about it. The chef cooking in the kitchen is speaking to the guest with his dish and conveying his thoughts.

Do you appreciate feedback from your guests?
Yes as I feel it is very important. It's not just a product in front of them but much more, and it is a simultaneous experience between us and the guest.

Related

This is the first installment in a three-part interview with chef David Toutain. You can find the second installment here and the third installment here.