Share Your Story contest: Greg, Winner of Week 4!
Share Your Story... Greg, Winner of Week 4
Congratulations to Greg Biggers, Executive Chef at Café des Architectes - Sofitel Chicago Water Tower for sharing with us his culinary adventure in Lyon and Tremolat in the Perigord region .
In March of 2012 I had the pleasure of traveling to France for my first time abroad. I am the Executive Chef of the Sofitel in Chicago so this has always been a dream of mine. I was lucky enough to have some stages arranged in Lyon and Tremolat in the Perigord region of France. In an adventure totaling 14 days I was able to see the bustling city of Paris, the gorgeous hills of Lyon, and the serene town of Tremolat.
In Lyon, I worked at the Michelin starred Les Trois Dômes. This was a very large operation in a beautifully outfitted kitchen. Having only worked in America, I was very surprised by the culture of the “afternoon break”. In most American kitchens there is no break during the afternoon. Although it was a little surprising when the lights of the kitchen were shut off and the team prepared to go home at 3 p.m., this was a very welcomed custom for me!
After leaving the city of Lyon I ventured off west in a cross country road trip to a town of 600 people. Driving across France I noticed a significant difference between our two countries. The emphasis on quality food in France is of huge importance. There were very few large supermarkets available. Everyone purchases groceries from the local markets or specialty stores that have perfected their craft over generations of practice. The other item of note was the lack of fast food chains. In America there are chains on every street corner. In eight hours of driving in France, I encountered only a handful of these places. It made me realize why I have been drawn to this culture of food throughout my career.
Arriving in Tremolat was a very special moment for me. As a young cook this is what I dreamt about. Magret duck, black Perigord truffles, Chestnuts, and small village farming. It was like a fairy tale. Spending the week in the kitchen of Vincent Arnould was an eye opening experience. Chef Vincent earned the title of a Meilleurs Ouvriers de France and garnered a Michelin Star for his kitchen at Le Vieux Logis. He welcomed me into his kitchen and worked through our language barrier and introduced me to a local truffle farmer named Henri. Henri greeted me like every eccentric farmer I know in the states - with open arms and a love for what he does. In the rural hills of France, he indulged me in a private hunt for the prized Perigord black truffle. Although the season was at its end, we were able to dig up two small treasures that Henri graciously insisted I take home with me.
This brief description of my time in France cannot even begin to explain the joy I experienced on this trip. I have had many experiences in my life but nothing made me so proud of the craft I have chosen to pursue as the chefs, artisans, and farmers I encountered upon my journey.
Greg at restaurant Paul Bocuse in Lyon
InTrémolat (Périgord) with Chef Vincent Arnould (far right) and his team.
Greg receives his prize, a bottle of Heidsieck Monopole Champagne, from Consul general of France Vincent Floreani.
• Tourism in France: go to rendezvousenfrance.com