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Portrait Anthony Courteille - The baker who became a chef (Paris)

Anthony, you were a baker before becoming a chef. Was baking a passion?
I think you can say that. An uncle and a great uncle of mine were bakers. I remember at a family reunion when I was four years old, my uncle let me touch some brioche dough. I thought it was fun. I loved the texture. Of course, at such an early age it wasn’t a calling, but the feeling remained. When I turned 15, however, I ignored my teachers’ advice - I made my decision and started learning how to be a baker. Today, even as a chef, my love for bread is still there. I actually bake the bread I serve to my clients. My recipe is wheat flour, chestnut flour, and kamut flour.

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Anthony Courteille, chef de Matière à… (photo de Joerg Lehmann)

Did you start you baking career in France?
I didn't, actually. I went to England right after I finished studying. I stayed at a friend’s in Brighton and distributed my resume on the seafront. I got hired in two palaces as a pastry cook. Among other things, I was in charge of the afternoon teas.

Is this then you got interested in cooking?
Exactly. I was seeing chefs cooking, and it started to grow on me. After a year and a half in England, I went to Paris. I worked at Morot-Gaudry, a one star restaurant, as a pastry cook, but I began to help prepare starter dishes. Little by little I became more involved.

I then worked as a roundsman at Alain Dutournier’s restaurant, Le Carré des Feuillants, while also baking bread for the restaurant. I then went to a friend’s restaurant and began working as a chef.

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Le pain d’Anthony (photo de Joerg Lehmann)


Is that when you decided to open your own restaurant?
Not just then. I continued to acquire other professional experiences: with Mickaël Feval; in a tea salon; at Grand Véfour; etc. Then a friend called me to open a restaurant in Spain, but we didn’t work together for very long. At that time, I didn’t really know which direction to take my career. That’s when Guy Martin called and asked me to work as a chef in his Atelier Guy Martin. I worked there for four years before opening my own restaurant, Matière à…

What is the concept behind Matière à… ?
In my restaurant, I wanted to have a big family table at which all my clients could sit. The reason why? Because eating has always been a time for sharing and getting together. Didn’t early humans meet around the fire to eat together?
 
How many people fit in your restaurant?
The main table can fit up to 15 people, and we have a little table for two people.


Tell me about your cuisine.
I serve a very small number of dishes: one starter, two main courses (one fish, one meat), and a dessert. It allows me to change my menu every day according to the seasonal, fresh products I find. It also forces me to endlessly challenge myself. Ages ago, restaurants would only offer one daily menu according to the seasonal products and to what suppliers would recommend.
 
Is there a dish you particularly like to cook?
I don’t have any favorite dish. I like to cook everything! But whatever I cook, a successful dish requires attention, generosity, and complicity.

What are your tastes in wine?
If there is a grape variety I like most, it is Chenin. It yields slightly fruity wine with strength and a nice balance.


What is your ideal food and wine pairing?
I like chocolate with Bordeaux wines, especially Saint-Emilion.

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A beautiful dish from Matière à… (photo de Joerg Lehmann)


Which wine bar do you like to go to in Paris?
I like Ô Chateau, in the 1st arrondissement. It offers a wide range of excellent wines by the glass. For example, you could taste a Château d’Yquem without having to buy the whole bottle.

If you were to give me three restaurant names in Paris, they would be...?
First, I would say Goust, where Spanish chef José Manuel Miguel works. He is a longtime friend. His cuisine matches his character perfectly: sunny and warm. Second, there is Ma-Sa, in Boulogne-Billancourt (metro stop Marcel Sembat, line 9). My friend Hervé Rodriguez, who owns it, makes surprising mixtures of flavors. I love his creativity. The third restaurant I would recommend is the Blue Valentine. I was there not too long ago with my employees. It is in the 11th arrondissement, rue de la Pierre Levée.

Anthony Courteille’s restaurant
Matière à…
15 Rue Marie-et-Louise, Paris 10e arrondissement, 09 83 07 37 85
Closed Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon.
Lunch: 16€ (entrée), 19€ (main course), or 23€ (entrée and dessert)
Dinner: 42€ (4 dishes): 12€ (entrée), 19€ (main course), and 12€ (dessert)
 
Les bons plans restaurant d’Anthony
– Goust, 10 Rue Volney, 75002 Paris, 01 40 15 20 30
– Ma-Sa, 112 Avenue Victor Hugo, 92100 Boulogne-Billancourt, 01 48 25 49 20
– Blue Valentine, 13 Rue de la Pierre Levée, 75011 Paris, 01 43 38 34 72

Les bons plans bars d’Anthony
– Bar à vin Ô Château, 68 Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Paris 1er arrondissement, 01 44 73 97 80
– Bar du Grand Hôtel Intercontinental, 2 Rue Scribe, Paris 9e arrondissement, 01 40 07 32 32
– Le Café Marly, 93 Rue de Rivoli, Paris 1er arrondissement, 01 49 26 06 60
– Café-resto-bar Depur, 4 bis Rue Saint Sauveur, Paris 2e arrondissement, 01 40 26 69 66


Joerg Lehmann has been a culinary photographer for more than 25 years. Joerg and Tristan Olphe-Galliard are currently developing a restaurant app in France and Europe (www.chefshout.com).

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