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The Warsaw Voice » Society » February 27, 2015
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Secrets of Haute Cuisine
February 27, 2015   
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French chef Olivier Nasti, whose achievements include two Michelin stars and the prestigious title of Meilleur Ouvrier de France (Best Craftsman in France), came to Poland Feb. 6-7 to host a live cooking show at the Sofitel Victoria hotel in Warsaw.

The event, called Live Cooking with Two Michelin-Star Chef, took place at the hotel’s Le Victoria Brasserie Moderne restaurant, providing audiences with an opportunity to meet Nasti in person and find out about some of his professional secrets. Nasti shared those at lunches and a special dinner whose menu featured his signature dishes. Each of the seven-course meals was haute cuisine at its finest.

While in Poland, Olivier Nasti gave an exclusive interview to the Voice.

You were named best craftsman in France, but do you also consider yourself an artist?
I believe every chef is an artist who extracts the fullest flavor out of different ingredients through a unique combination. It is also important how you garnish your dishes. These two aspects together ensure the food you prepare pleases all the senses and, its delightful smell and taste aside, it is also a treat to the eye.

What are the inspirations behind your culinary creations?
I take inspiration from many sources, but I would say nature is the primary one. I am most inspired by the seasonal nature of ingredients. Sometimes my dishes are prepared on the spur of the moment, as a result of a spontaneous idea. Still, I always try to combine regional flavors based on fresh, seasonal ingredients.

What does it take to make a culinary masterpiece? What is most important? Is it the ingredients, the composition or the technique?
Each dish is an inspiring combination of three essential elements. One is quality ingredients, available at a specific time in a specific region. Then, it is of key importance how you compose them together. The selection of ingredients and the intensity of different aromas depends on the chef’s vision. The final component of a culinary creation is the technique that allows you to highlight one ingredient or another. And then you have the end result, a one-of-a-kind flavor.

You are known for inventing techniques that are rarely used in routine cooking practice. Could you say a few words about those?
As a chef, I use many different cooking techniques. Some are traditional and have been in use for years. But sometimes, I try more sophisticated and modern techniques, such as the use of nitrogen. To me, precision comes first. I want my dishes to offer simple flavors and composition so my guests can savor both the individual components and the meal as a whole.

What about the latest trends in cooking?
As far as cooking is concerned, there have been many different trends lately. The dominant one, however, is to make the art of cooking simple again and I like that. Above all, cooking has to reflect the chef and his personality.

What do you think of recent culinary trends like adding soil to meals?
What you cook needs to be compatible with your inspirations, tastes and philosophy as a chef. Personally, I try to avoid ingredients and methods that are unnatural or clash with what I believe in. But at the same time, I welcome new challenges and cooking methods. This is the only way for me to find my own, individual way of bringing the full flavor out of a dish.

Do you prefer sophisticated or simple meals?
My culinary preferences depend on my mood. Sometimes I relish in homemade food prepared by my loved ones. But there are moments when I feel like trying something sophisticated, and so once in a while I will take a trip to a different city or country just to have dinner based on regional dishes. My visit to Warsaw puts a new pin on my culinary map. I couldn’t possibly leave here without trying local specialties.

Some people say that meals carry the energy and emotions of the person who creates them. Do you agree?
Absolutely. I believe meals reflect the chef’s emotions and moods. A chef passes his passion on to his guests through his cooking techniques, the spices he uses and the ingredients he picks. It is important to love what you do and seek culinary inspiration not in new places alone, but in everyday life.
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