Franck Bruwier – a very experienced international chef and chef instructor
Franck Bruwier is a very experienced international chef and chef instructor. We met him to talk about the secrets of gastronomy and to learn more about how it is to guide young cooks.
Today you are a very experienced international chef, chef instructor. Where does all you passion for the job come from?
I came from a family who was often receiving guests and I grew up in a very traditional way in regards to the table. These moments were important and everybody was busy working and enjoying being together around the meal.
Which cooking school did you attend?
I started in a very unknown small cooking school in San Francisco. I must say it was a strange way to start as a french chef at that time.
Your very first job as a cook: how tough was it for you?
My first line cook job was in a french brasserie Lyonnaise in Larkspur California under Roland Passot. We were doing 300 to 600 covers a day. I loved the pace and the quantities we worked with.
Hand on your heart, did you ever think about giving up and changing careers as a young chef?
It never crossed my mind.
So far you have worked in many countries including China, Mexico, USA, Malaysia, Korea and now Turkey. How did all this different experiences influence your culinary line/ style to this day?
It made me feel closer to my culinary roots. I have done a synthetic analysis of all these cuisines and I find myself to be comfortable in any place. I found some universal tastes that can be accepted by the majority.
What is always most important for you in these foreign experiences?
Most important is to understand the politics of the country you in very well. You need to acknowledge a lot criteria and not only from a taste point of view.
How would you describe your own culinary style today?
I don’t think I have a « style » and not many chefs have one in my opinion. I would define myself as a Parisian chef well rooted with a friendly hand. 🙂
You had some training as the chef of the prime minister of foreign affairs in 1996. What made this experience special for you?
I was the last generation of kids in France that needed to do compulsory service in the army. I came back from the USA thinking I was trained enough but I received my first “wake-up call” …it taught me how to work. If I had to do it again I would.
You worked as well for 5 years at the famous Lucas Carton, under Alain Senderens. How did this time influence your culinary work today?
Again, the army found me a commis position under Alain Senderens at Lucas Carton and I must say it was another dimension. I was his personal chef during the summer holidays in the south west too. It felt like I never took a break during these 5 years. I ended up the chef of the private restaurant upstairs of Lucas Carton « Le Cercle ». Unforgettable experience…a true culinary and spiritual guide too.
You worked for many years as chef instructor at the famous culinary school/ institution the Le Cordon Bleu in Korea, Malaysia and Istanbul. What is the secret of this famous institution?
I believe the branding « Le Cordon Bleu » is the secret. It created a community or a type of family within the students that no other schools has. I am now working with Istinye university and will start to work on a culinary program that hopefully will help some future good chefs.
Working as a chef instructor, what did you enjoy most at this job?
For me, after many years I had the necessities to share all my knowledge. In between, I went to take some courses with Hervé This (father of molecular gastronomy) and did a 3 month internship at the Fat Duck in Bray England, after that I was ready to teach.
Recently, you have been involved as chef and owner at “Franck Bistro”. What does this project entail?
I think this is the most unexpected moment of my career. Teaching full time was not fulfilling for me anymore and I realized that I did mostly all I wanted except having my own place. I was in Istanbul for the past 3 years and I could not believe that there was not one single French bistro here. Also, I have enjoyed their rich land and product available here. One day i said to myself “today you find your restaurant or you leave Turkey” and I found it. Its called Franck Bistro or “FB” and i believe it’s the smallest dining room i’ve ever been in …maximum 14 people and one seat on reservation only at the moment. I love it and there are always some great moments of sharing and fun.
Can you share your signature dish with us?
I don’t have a signature dish but I believe the place, the concept and the atmosphere is unique.
Can you share your very last creation with us?
I don’t think we create but we “find out” I often say to my students. Recently I have been serving this Ottoman Roman duck inspired recipe and I have recieved great feedback from it. It’s very impressive the reactions. I believe I am the only one in istanbul to also serve game meat like hare, wild duck colvert and the like.
What are some of the lesser known spices and vegetables you use?
I use Tonka beans, many people did not know about it here. For vegetables, i use at the moment some mushrooms that are very new for Turkish consumers. I also serve Turkish truffles.
Which unique cooking technique have you mastered?
I was so into vacuum packing, low temp and a total freak enthusiast about new technology. Strangely, I now take pleasure of roasting well and controlling the heat like we learned at the beginning. I like to be closer to the ingredients.
There are lots of trends/ new developments in the culinary world. What are some of the important developments you see comoing within the next years?
I think there’s more interest about the quality of the product than the technology recently and it’s a good sign. I also believe that trends should not be part of the culinary dynamic. Food is not a fashion show at the end. But in terms of new tech, I recently saw this machine that tempers cocoa butter at 31.1 degrees exactly. It tempers chocolate in a few seconds. I was like “how come this machine arrived just now?”.
Knowing where our food comes from, is one of the topics which gains more attention. Do you think more and more restaurants will follow this path and display openly their sources and food suppliers?
It looks like we are getting back to the basics…originally all chefs were taking pride in presenting the origin of their ingredients. We are just restarting it all over again and I welcome it with open arms.
What would you do if you wouldn’t have to worry about your income for one year?
I would keep working in any case…a cook can work anytime anywhere.
Looking back at your chef career so far, what regrets do you have? What would you do differently?
At this moment i do not regret anything, time will tell…and the future will say.
What makes you happy?
When I pass the vibe to a younger chef and i feel he is discovering something new to grow and also when i see the seasonal ingredients coming, its truly inspirational.
How did your chef career change you as a person?
I say to my students very often “I have not changed, I have discovered myself”…
What do people often misunderstand about the chef job?
They don’t misunderstand I believe, but they should enter this field with the right intentions.
So far you haven’t come up with a cookbook. Is it something you would be interested in, and if so, what would be the topic?
Someone said “a man becomes a man when he has a child, planted a tree and wrote a book”. I am missing the last one and yes I would love to do it. “The Spirit of Taste” will be the title in reference of what I have understood and learnt under the influence of Alain Senderens.
So far you have had lots of international experiences. Is there any place in the world, where you would like to work as chef in the future?
My father was an ethnologue specialized in the discovery of the last tribes of the amazon, so the adventure never ends in my family.
But I am going to set my mark in Istanbul for a while I believe, it’s a very interesting gastronomic pole. Some would disagree, but I feel a great interest, enthusiasm and curiosity here in Turkey and the Istanbulians.
Thank you Franck for your time.
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