Mathieu Rostaing Tayard is one of the most talented French chefs of his generation. A chef who can’t be labelled and who dares to move on the cutting age with an elegance of a virtuoso. He will on Sunday the 8th of October create a very special Gelinaz performance together with the legendary musician David Chalmin. What does Mathieu have to say about it?
What does food mean to you and how would you describe your cuisine?
Firstly I would like to separate food and cuisine into different distinct things. Food for me has to be something to nourish the body – healthy and diverse – and something that can respect the environment and the people that we live with. Cuisine on the other hand is a way to share personal heritage and political views through food.
I think my cuisine is a construction between the experience and terroir.
I worked for ten years for many really good chefs. I started in Lyon with Nicolas Le Bec and then around 2000 I worked for Pierre Gagnaire. I worked also for Massimo Bottura, and then at Central in Peru. I learned a lot about technique and ideas and it opened my mind.
I opened my first restaurant when I was twenty-six years and my style has always been a mix of all these experiences. It was the moment of the great boom of the bistronomy – lots of freedom and love. In my first restaurant, I was alone in the kitchen and when you are alone, you are more direct in cooking, you focus on the most important things – flavour and technique. You don’t have time for the bullshit. This is how my cuisine developed. The other important thing is that I wish everybody would be able to afford my cuisine – it shouldn’t be too expensive. I have also been raised in a family that cares about nature and ecology, so these are other factors defining my cuisine. I have opened new restaurants afterwards, but always stayed loyal to these values. Now I have gathered even more experience and I am also more precise.
Also, now I live in the Basque Country. I decided to move here for a few reasons – first for a better life for my family and then for the produce.
Here it’s hot, especially in the last years, so we have a wide variety of citrus fruits, chillies … a wealth of strong flavours. We have the sea, the mountains, the rich culture of the Basque Country and from the north the more classical French culture. We are in the middle of all this. And with all this great produce from the sea and the mountains, it’s clear we are very ingredient-focused.
Music has always been present in my life – it’s another dimension that goes along my day at work and in my private life. I was born in 1982 and grew up with the hip-hop culture which was very strong in Lyon. On the other side, Lyon also has a very strong electronic scene and hosts a big festival of electronic music, one of the most important in France, called Nuits Sonores and I love electronic music.
How do you see David’s music and how does it communicate with your restaurant and the food you create?
David is an immensely talented musician with a huge culture about his craft and I see my approach to cooking is very close to his approach to his art. We both share a love for minimalism, an open mind and savoir-faire and we always try to evolve and improve what we do.
I met David through a friend, a winemaker. Bryce Dessner came to do a recording in David’s studio and they also visited my friend who is a winemaker. I have always been a big fan of The National and when our gynaecologists suggested we choose an album to play once a day during the pregnancy and then again when my wife was giving birth, to comfort the baby, I chose “High Violet” by The National and this became a very special music for us. A month after the opening of Sillon Bryce came to dine. Meeting David and Bryce after this was so meaningful for me and my family. Then David and many of his friends and colleagues started coming to Sillon for dinner and drinks and now you see, we are doing Gelinaz together with David.