Photograph by Manuel Rodriguez
Photograph by Manuel Rodriguez

Profession: French Chef
New York City

Where did you grow up?
I was born in France, in Antibes. When I was 9, my parents moved to Andorra, a very small country in the mountains between France and Spain, where I lived until I was 17.

When did you first take an interest in cooking?
I’ve had a passion for food since I was young. I was always around the kitchen with whoever was cooking, and then—at a very young age—I decided on what they call “a profession.” I decided to go to culinary school because I had a passion for eating and cooking.

What’s the last thing you cooked? Paella.

What first drew you to Buddhism? I grew up in a Christian environment, and at that time in France we didn’t have very much information about Buddhism. Then, in 1989, I finally ended up with a book about Tibet. I was interested in Tibetan civilization, and I was eager to read more and ended up reading a book by the Dalai Lama. The French name, if I translate it exactly, was “A hundred elephants on a blade of grass,” and it started with his Nobel Prize speech. After that, I was like “Wow! Buddhism!” It was a revelation.

Do you find, as a chef, that Buddhist practice helps your work? Yes, in many ways. It gives me respect for the lives of the products that we are using, and I try to create an environment that is as peaceful as I can and to promote Buddhist principles of tolerance and compassion. It’s an exercise that I practice for myself, then for my team and for the restaurant.

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