Cenitz Studio
Capsule N°07

Frédéric Simonin

Born on July 31, 1975, in Issy-les-Moulineaux, the son of a military officer, Frédéric Simonin entered military boarding school at 13 and then decided to pursue an apprenticeship in cuisine in Saint-Brieuc, trained by Roland Pariset. In 1993, he was awarded Best Apprentice Cook of Brittany at just 18 years old. He earned his culinary certificate that same year, moved to Paris, and began working as a commis at Pavillon Ledoyen under the direction of Ghislaine Arabian. He quickly climbed all the ranks to chef de partie and worked for several years at Le Meurice restaurant under Marc Marchand, at Taillevent under Philippe Legendre then Michel Del Burgo, and at Le Cinq with Philippe Legendre. He trained in major restaurants and earned two Michelin stars as a chef with Joël Robuchon. He opened his own restaurant in Paris in 2010, where he received a Michelin star the following year.

What is the vision (the guiding thread, founding concept, or main objective) that you pursue through your work?

This profession is constantly evolving, rapidly developing, especially under the impulse of television shows and sponsors that contribute to its media exposure. This attention almost makes the profession a star, but this popularity will wane over time, like a fashion phenomenon. That's why I think it's essential to get back to basics: to train, coach, guide, and teach the fundamentals of the profession, which tend to be lost. In this perspective, why not consider creating a culinary school, that would differentiate from the current institutions? A school that would be a symbol of excellence, working in small committees, a bit like a regiment dedicated to cuisine, which would remind, with a touch of humor, the Foreign Legion. I imagine an innovative format: an all-in-one building, a campus dedicated to gastronomy, a true mix between culinary know-how and community life. A project is being developed, but has not yet been fully defined. Its cost will be very high, running into millions, and only solid and committed partners will be able to realize it.

What are the main changes you have observed in your profession over time and the challenges that might arise in the coming decades? How do they reflect societal and technological transformations?

Over the years, I have observed several major changes in my profession, reflecting societal and technological evolutions. Among these changes, technological advancement holds a prominent place, with notable progress in the materials used, the introduction of induction cooktops and smart ovens, as well as the adoption of innovative cooking techniques such as sous-vide. These developments have been largely driven by big companies, such as EnoDIS, as well as by renowned kitchen designers, such as Michel and Jérôme Costes, father and son of the Rorgue house. One of the goals of these innovations is to reduce the heat around the cook, in order to increase his performance. Additionally, the use of more ecological materials for cleaning products helps reducing pollution caused by toxic substances. In terms of food, a trend towards reduced protein consumption and the use of processed materials is also observable. However, what worries me the most for the future is the issue of global overpopulation and food waste. These challenges, which are crucial in the coming decades, reflect the major issues of our society in the face of technological transformations and environmental concerns.

Is there a book, a film, or a work of art that, in your opinion, perfectly captures the essence or dilemmas of your profession?

Two culinary books immediately come to my mind. The first, "L'Heptaméron des gourmets," offers a dive into the modern cuisine of the 19th century, while the second echoes the classicism of that same era through "The culinary guide" by Auguste Escoffier. These books illustrate life as an eternal dilemma, reflecting a century marked by various culinary styles. Renowned chefs such as Joël Robuchon, Alain Ducasse, Paul Bocuse, and Pierre Gagnaire also embody this spirit, each in their own way contributing to the richness and complexity of cuisine. Their work, marked by passion, innovation, and respect for traditions, perfectly captures the nuances and challenges of our profession.

Imagine you could create a capsule that would travel through the universe and time, what would you like to put inside it?

If I had the opportunity to create a capsule capable of traveling through the universe and time, I would imagine it not only as a means to revisit the past but also as a reflection on the possibility of making our existence less complicated, more beautiful, and more fulfilling compared to the challenges of our current life. At the heart of this time capsule, I would choose to place my three children. This decision would be motivated by the desire to take a new start with them, to walk together a different path of life where I would be more present. My absence in their lives is one of my greatest regrets. The time lost with those we love is something we can never recover. Throughout my life, I have devoted a great deal of my time to work, seeking to fill a personal void and soothe an inner sadness, while neglecting what is truly essential: life itself. Placing my children in this capsule would be a strong symbol of my willingness to correct my past mistakes and to dedicate myself to what matters most, namely, being there for them, just for them.