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- Tuesday, 12 January 2016 10:47 | Written by Matthias Tesi Baur
Tesi: Pascal, you are the owner of London’s culinary enterprise, Club Gascon. Can you tell me about the concept and background of your restaurant?
Pascal: I actually co-own Club Gascon and Co., and none of it would have been possible without Vincent Labeyrie, my business partner.
We are both from the Southwest of France and wanted to represent this part of France in London. In 1998, we opened our first restaurant, Club Gascon. The idea was to create a specialized French menu based on small plates, similar to tapas. At that time, it was a completely new concept, and the result really pleased our guests.
Tesi: Your restaurant features cuisine from Southwest France. Can you describe the cuisine and how you have been inspired?
Pascal: With Club, Cellar, and Comptoir Gascon located near the meat market in Central London, we cover a region comprising Bordeaux / Toulouse and Biarritz. At the time we opened, for a city like London we could propose this type of cuisine because there were no other similar offerings.
Tesi: Some chefs discover their love for food and their gift for preparing outstanding dishes quite late, while for others it is clear in their childhood that they will become a chef. When did you discover your ability to prepare food that is far beyond the norm?
Pascal: As a kid, I wanted to a stone cutter, but my family said no. So, I told them I would become a Chef. I am a physical person and like to play with flavours and colours. It was natural to continue in the foodie world.
Tesi: What is your favourite dish and why?
Pascal: Squid in general is my favourite dish. I think the texture is the main reason, but anywhere in the world I see squid on the menu, I have to taste it.
Tesi: What is your vision? Where do you want to be in five years – still in London or in a small village on the beaches of Southern France?
Pascal: One of my dreams is to transform a house into a boutique hotel in Lisbon. If you know some investors, let me know!
Tesi: What does good food mean to you?
Pascal: A lifestyle and happy health.
Matthias Tesi Baur
About Pascal Aussignac & Club Gascon
Chef Pascal Aussignac hails from Toulouse in the South West of France, where foie gras, duck, fine charcuterie, cassoulet, good wines and Armagnac are the order of the day. He trained with French master Chefs like Gerard Vie, Alain Dutournier and Guy Savoy. His love of food and attention to detail has been delighting foodies & critics in London since 1998.
Michelin-starred chef and restaurateur, he cooks in and oversees in close collaboration with his business partner Vincent Labeyrie seven award-winning restaurants in London, all of them with a slightly different culinary theme but celebrating the food of France and of his beloved homeland of Gascony.
Their flagship restaurant, Club Gascon, was awarded a Michelin Star in 2002 that it has kept since. In 2007 it was awarded the ultimate peer group accolade of Restaurant of the Year by Caterer Magazine.
Over the years, Pascal Aussignac and Vincent Labeyrie opened 7 other affiliate artisan restaurants:
- in Smithfield:
- Club Gascon – Michelin-starred restaurant
- Cellar Gascon - specialist wine bar
- Comptoir Gascon – bistro and Official Embassy of Cassoulet in the UK
- Le Cercle in Chelsea
- in Chancery Lane: Cigalon and Baranis dedicated to Provençal and Corsican cuisine
- Chip + Fish in Westfield London, Stratford City & Trinity Food Court Leeds.
In 2008, He wrote his first recipe book: "Cuisinier Gascon" awarded Best French Cookbook by “Gourmand Award”.
Well respected in the industry, Pascal has kept his dedication to the cuisine he loves and passion: he still cooks at Club Gascon every day, looks after the floral arrangement in all his restaurants, and keeps surprising the London foodie scene.
In 2015 Pascal and Vincent launched a new venture Duck’N Roll for the Street Feast group at Hawker House trading over 5 weekends and scheduled for a permanent site throughout the summer of 2015 in Shoreditch.
1967 Born in Toulouse, France
1982 Lycée hôtelier of Bordeaux-Talence
1985 First wage as commis for Gérard Vié at ‘Trois Marches’
1989 At 25 year old already knows that he wants to open his restaurant
1998 Opening of Club Gascon in London
2002 First Michelin star
2009 Publication of his first book Cuisinier Gascon
2013 2013 Restaurant Chef of the Year award at the Craft Guild of Chef Award
Club Gascon (1998)
57 West Smithfield
020 7600 6144
Opened its door in September 1998 in a former Lyons Tea House, Club Gascon is situated between Saint Bartholomew Church (one of the oldest churches in London) and the famous Smithfield Meat Market.
Low-key, sophisticated and consistently rated as one of London’s best restaurants, this Michelin-starred restaurant is an intimate and chic venue with marble walls, wooden floors, big mirrors and olive-green banquettes.
Specialised in imaginative cuisine from the South West of France, it offers a menu of mouth-watering selections. Chef Pascal Aussignac's talent with seasonal produce, and his ability to bring ingredients together, show in every dish.
The menu is designed with the intention of tasting different flavours by sampling arrange of smaller plates. As such guests are invited to choose 3 or 4 delicacies among the 5 different sections of the à la carte menu or to choose Le Marché, a popular 5 course tasting menu based around the best in seasonal produce.
The sections from the à la carte are as follows:
• La Route du Sel – This section is named after an ancient French salt route from the Mediterranean coast to the province of Rouergue, just north of Toulouse. All these dishes feature salted or cured ingredients - including marinated foods and smoked fish or meat
- Le Potager – A ‘potager’ is a vegetable garden and this section is full of delicious, vegetarian dishes
- Les Foies Gras – These are Club Gascon’s speciality. Nowhere else in the UK offers such a range of these exquisite goose and duck liver terrines that manage to be rich, buttery, and delicate all at once
- L’Oceane – These delectable seafood dishes showcase the finest offerings from the southern French Atlantic coast and little-known local cookery techniques
- Les Paturages –Superlative meat and game, for the bountiful forests of Landes are packed full of wild birds and deer
All the ingredients are seasonal, of superlative quality and are sourced from small artisan producers from the South West France. Club Gascon is monitored by ‘Le Comité Renaissance’ which has a commitment to maintaining the highest standards of freshness and authenticity.
Club Gascon’s wine cellar similarly takes diners on a journey across South West France with numerous exclusive specially-imported wines and spirits.
The wine list is mainly from the Southwest, Languedoc Roussillon and Bordeaux areas. There is no wine from Burgundy or the new world.
2014 Best in Taste Award – Taste of London ‘Croque Gascon’
2014 3 AA Rosettes (published September 2013)
2013 Restaurant Chef of the Year award at the Craft Guild of Chef Award
Tatler Magazine - Test of Time
Trophées des francais de l'étranger - Lauréat catégorie Art de Vivre
2012 Best in Taste Award – Taste of London ‘Marmite Royale’
2011 Best in Taste Award – Taste of London ‘Foie Gras Burger & Summer Truffle’
2008 Gastronomades France - Best French touch
2007 Catey Awards - Independent Restaurateur of the Year
2007 Francais of the year - Meilleur Chef-Pascal Aussignac
2005 Hotel & Restaurant Awards - Best French Restaurant
2004 Tio Pepe ITV London Restaurant - The Outstanding London Chef of the Year
2003 Harpers & Moët Restaurant Award - Best Restaurant in London
2002 Michelin Guide - One Star (Since 2002)
2000 Good Food Guide - Restaurant of the Year
2000 AA Guide - Restaurant of the Year
2000 Hotel & Restaurant Awards - Best French Restaurant
2000 Decanter - Newcomer of the Year
1999 Time Out Eating & Drinking Awards - Best New Restaurant
1999 Caterer & Hotelkeeper Catey Awards - Best New Restaurant