An interview with uber-chef Marc Veyrat

07-05-2018 Cornichons, apéritif des français
Logo France Bon appétit

 Meeting French Chef Marc Veyrat for an interview to talk about the French aperitif.

 

Marc Veyrat French apéritif © Richard Haughton

© Richard Haughton

 

What in your opinion is the perfect aperitif? 

The perfect aperitif is something that lives up to its name, and gets the gastric juices flowing – the word comes from the Latin aperire, “to open”. It shouldn’t be too overpowering on the nose and should whet the appetite. I am currently working on reconstructing a virtual tartiflette for an aperitif. It’s sweet, a little fluffy, but not at all overpowering in terms of aromas.

 

Is there a typical “Made in France” aperitif? How does it make the French aperitif so unique?

Of course there is an aperitif à la française. Every country brings their own unique flavours and flair. My personal favourite is when the chef prepares small toasts with reblochon cheese, or fondue with black olives, over a layer of tapenade. It’s a halfway house between the mountains and midday. It’s quite amazing. But France’s absolute favourite aperitif has to be cheese and ham covered toast bites. It’s the aperitif à la française we all know and love.

I have a great story to share. When I was young, I used to like partying. My grandmother used to give us Champagne. It was poor man’s Champagne…a thimble of rum and lashings of lemonade. It was quite magical.

 

Is the aperitif important to you?

It’s about coming together, sharing a special moment that means something, and afterwards sharing a meal, in the same place or somewhere else. And it has to be staggered. What I don’t like about amuses-bouches or appetisers, is when the first course arrives immediately after they are served. Amuses-bouches are no longer really an appetiser, but a course in itself. It’s about sharing, conviviality and exchange.

 

What drinks would you serve with it?

I have an extraordinary wine that I would strongly recommend, quite herbaceous and also quite in at the moment, called Jacquere organic by Dupasquier. It’s quite delicious, not too expensive, and it stimulates the palate and goes really well with nibbles. We also serve a sparkling wine from the French Alps, made in the same way as Champagne and a real regional speciality, made from the closest vines to the Mont Blanc.  It’s called Ayze. It’s amazing, not expensive, eminently quaffable and packed full of flavour. Quite delicious. I like to serve it with the tartiflette.

 

Let’s talk about ingredients now – gherkins – are they an essential part of the aperitif?

Absolutely. Gherkins are currently rediscovering their French roots, and a company called Jardin d’Orante now sells gherkins made in France. We really need to support and promote them as they are giving the product a modern twist which is really brilliant. The latest gherkins they launched were fantastic. Not too vinaigry, crunchy and awesome.

 

What springs to mind when you hear the word “aperitif”?

For me, aperitif is all about meeting up with old friends and good times shared.

 

Which recipes would you share with us? 

Gherkin soufflé.