Born in the south of France, Michelin-starred chef Nicolas Isnard began his gastronomic adventure by cooking side-by-side with his Italian grandmother. He cultivated his own culinary sensibilities in a decade of cooking across France, from Matignon to Dijon. L’Auberge de la Charme, the restaurant he co-owns in France, earned a Michelin star in 2009, within a year of opening. Today, he continues to explore a food philosophy and create novel flavour combinations with provincial and local produce.
We were fortunate enough to catch chef Nicolas at The District Grill Room & Bar in Bangkok Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit, where he hosted an exclusive lavish wine-pairing dinner. Find out more about him and what his next culinary journey will involve by checking out interview with him:
Do you enjoy Thai food? What is your favorite Thai food?
Yes, I do. My love for Thai food was instant. [It started] eight years ago, when I first visited Thailand. I particularly enjoy the spiciness and sourness of Thai cuisine. There are too many Thai dishes that I love but I must say pad Thai and tom yum goong are my top two favourites.
What do you think of The District Grill Room & Bar?
This is one of the best places in Bangkok for fine dining with a twist. The ambience is exclusive, the staff are friendly, and the open kitchen is simply remarkable. I really enjoy working with the team here, even though it was just for a few short days.
What is your cooking philosophy?
Easy. No product, no cuisine. Cooking to me is a lifelong passion. I love knowing how to cook because if I ever have a craving, I can do something about it and I can make it the way I want it.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not busy working?
I am an active person with a great passion for travel. When I don’t travel, I enjoy spending time with my wife and children, listening to music, and reading interesting books. All these activities influence and inspire me to experiment with new cuisines in my kitchen.
Who is your most influential chef and what did you learn from him/her?
Gilles Goujon, a French Michelin-starred chef who has the ability to create and transform almost every ingredient to something great. The way he cooks his food and the flavours that he crafts are simply impeccable.
Have you ever cooked for any VIPs?
Certainly. I have cooked for many celebrities and politicians in my career and this includes the President of France, Jacques Chirac, and the French actor, Christian Clavier.
What is your greatest achievement in life?
Happiness – it is my greatest achievement. I love my job. I love my family. I love to travel for work. I love eating all kinds of food and I am always smiling as you can see. Life is too beautiful for me.
What is the most difficult ingredient to work with?
That would be bitter marmalade, as I am not a big fan of bitter tastes with the only exception of gin and tonic. Then again, I would put a lot of lemon juice in my gin and tonic, as I love the sour and acidic flavour. That probably explains why I love Thai food.
What will be the best words to describe your cooking?
Happy and flavoursome. I always believe in the theory ‘what you cook is who you are’ and I love cooking ‘happy food’ for my guests.
What is your best advice for people who aspire to be a successful chef?
You have to love your food. Be patient, curious, open-minded and adventurous – these are all the essential traits in becoming a successful chef.
The District Grill Room & Bar, Bangkok Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit, Sukhumvit Soi 57, Bangkok; +66 2 797 0000; facebook.com/MarriottSukhumvit