Daniel Galmiche is the Michelin star chef at The Vineyard at Stockross who also works his magic on BBC’s Saturday Kitchen and launched his first book last year. We caught up with the Frenchman and his lilting accent to find out what makes a Michelin star restaurant, and if you’re cooking like that at work … what do you do at home?
What made you want to work with food?
Growing up, my Great Aunt ran a small holding on the Swiss border. I used to feed the animals from a young age, and instead of helping my uncle in the field, I helped in the kitchen. Everything always smelled lovely … I didn’t think of anything else, it was idyllic.
Why did you make the move to the UK from France?
A job became available in Scotland, which sounded nice – I came for one season, and 20 years later I am still here!
You have held a Michelin star for 20 years – what do you think makes a Michelin star restaurant?
Consistency … in terms of the food that means the quality of the produce and doing the same things across the board. It is the sign of a well run kitchen when it’s simple and effective – it is good for the Michelin guide, and it’s good for the customer.
Your style is decribed as ‘contemporary French cooking’ – what does that mean?
It is classic cooking in a light way – colourful because I like the Mediterranean style, and tasty!
Yes, in Greece, Turkey, Italy – people live to eat more than eating to live – food is a big thing, family and education are around the table and it’s about joy, so they cook well and think about it a lot. South East Asia is similar. The UK is changing a lot – people are starting to see food as enjoyable – the farmers’ market is back; the produce here is good – at The Vineyard I use 80% British produce, and we are also one of the most sustainable restaurants in the UK.
Having a spa, do you find that there’s a particular emphasis on healthy foods or are customers all about the pampering and indulging?
The spa is fantastic – it’s a boutique spa so it’s not over-crowded, and the treatments are fabulous because Kirsty’s team is wonderful – it’s all very personal. For food in the spa we do bento boxes. I am looking to change them a bit and to prepare ones where everything is with olive oil and others where everything is with dairy – to continue that idea of personal choice. It’s attractive, fun, free range, organic and sustainable – those are the things that are important to people.
Have you ever had an utterly disasterous cooking experience?
Not anything major, some mistakes but that’s all … I was doing a competition once though and I packed everything but forgot all my knives and was disqualified straight away – at the time I was not happy, but said ‘Bon, I’m going home!’ … I went back and re-did it and won it on the third time.
What’s the most common question you get asked about cooking?
People always ask about the hours and the social time – it is something we are always trying to address, but it’s difficult to control – every day is different. We try to plan a good rotation, but we work around 64-70 hours a week, so you have to be really passionate about what you do.
When you cook at home is it all very elaborate, or are you a secret baked beans on toast fan?
That’s exactly what my book is about [French Brasserie Cookbook] – it’s what we eat at home. In France, fine dining is not what we do all the time – we go to the brasserie, pubs, auberge, inns – when I am at home or when I go out, I eat normal food. There are only ever six ingredients, so it’s very accessible, easy and practical. I cook with my wife and my son [who is twelve and once joined Galmiche on Saturday Kitchen] – we eat simple, lovely food with good produce – it’s fun!
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