The only female chef of a three Michelin-starred restaurant in France, Anne-Sophie Pic comes from Valence, and from a prestigious line of Rhone Valley culinary greats.The cook (that is the term she prefers) first came into the kitchen in 1997. She has since developed her own style, its sole objective being to please and ensure a deliciously happy moment.
What made you want to start your career in the kitchen?
I grew up above the family restaurant, but as strange as it sounds, becoming a cook wasn't my first choice. While I was studying business management, I got the opportunity to travel to Paris, Japan and the United States... After these enriching experiences, I realised that my place was in Valence and so I was 23 years old when I first entered the kitchen as a professional.
What is your philosophy in the kitchen?
I like to share my passion when I cook, and want to make sure my guests feel good. I've been working forever on associating tastes in order to transmit just the right emotion. I guess that's a bit like my trademark.
How important is tradition in your kitchen?
We have an extremely rich heritage in France, but we can't stay focused on the past. It's important to pass on what we have to future generations. For example, I like to work with certain varieties of forgotten vegetables, and integrate these traditional products into my cuisine with a more contemporary approach.
Where do you find inspiration?
I get asked this question often. Inspiration comes through interesting encounters, and on trips while searching for new products. When I find something I like, I try to imagine the different ways and products with which I could make it stand out.
What product would you like to introduce to someone coming France for the first time?
Vegetables! France is a country that grows a great variety, and the Drôme department in particular. If I had to choose one, however, it would be the beet, which I have loved since I was small. In my restaurant in Valence, I try to reveal all the different colours, textures and flavours of the many beetroot varieties.
What kind of advice would you give tourists looking for a succesful culinary experience while France?
Choose your restaurant carefully! That's what the guides are for. Also, it's important to know how to decipher a menu before going into a restaurant.
Tell us about your region.
There are territories that like to be hiked and explored, but where nothing is worth as much as the happiness brought on by living there - and that the case in my native Drôme, my home which I have finally never left. I know all its crooks and crannies, from North to South. While the North cultivates ties with Lyon, the South shares the luminosity of Provence, its sun-filled flavours and sweet fruits from the Rhone Valley, Romanesque churches with incandescent charm, castles with stately towers and the colourful characters who once lived there...