“I’m not in the kitchen. I’m cooking”

Veal sweetbreads by Stéphanie Le Quellec, at La Scène restaurant, Paris 8, July 19, 2022.

yestéphanie Le Quellec is a Parisian chef and businesswoman: already in charge of her two-star restaurant, La Scène, and a charcuterie, Mam, she opened a fish restaurant, Vive, on October 17me city.

“I never ate in a star restaurant before I was 19 years old, I don’t come from this seraglio. I came to the kitchen because of the culture of sharing the family table, because of my mother and grandmother who prepared the meals. Gizzards embody the classic cuisine I grew up on. Though I must say I hated the way my mom prepared it: with morels, simmered, overcooked, not caramelized enough. I had a revelation when she was working at the George-V, where Philippe Legendre was offering a big apple with crisp golden gizzards, a three-star version. I built myself between these two kitchens.

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Ever since I became a chef, sweetbreads have never left my menu. That it is a trippier product -therefore segmented- excites me a bit. I choose a good beef sweetbread apple that I poach in a broth, then force its coloration in a pan with semi-salted butter. It should be crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Then I glaze it with a beef gravy and then a kalamansi vinegar gel. [agrume d’Asie du Sud-Est] very spicy, to break up the fatty side. For now, it is simply placed on poivrade artichokes cut into one-minute slices, as thin as cigarette paper.

“Rehumanize Everything”

It’s me who makes the gizzards. If my restaurant is open, I am present and I do not put myself in the past [pour vérifier l’exécution des plats], I take care of the kitchen. I’m not in the kitchen, I cook. I led brigades of fifty people in the past, sometimes I found myself doing more paperwork than cooking, being a driver. I turned 40 nine months ago and it may be an age-related realization: I asked myself the question of how I want to do my job. I need to cook, carnally. I want to rehumanize all that, transmit my knowledge to the young people around me. I no longer need to prove anything through my plates. The cook’s ego has been erased over the years to offer a simpler, almost minimalist kitchen.

Stéphanie Le Quellec, at La Scène restaurant, July 19, 2022.

Today I see myself as an innkeeper, I want to share a moment in my dining room with my clients. At La Scène I receive them like at home, which creates a certain intimacy: my team no longer calls me “boss” but by my first name. Some days I don’t even wear the white jacket, I cook with a blouse. I want the client to leave my house thinking: “Through this mushroom tartlet, I felt that Sunday lunch moment when Stéphanie prepares a quiche with her children. In this iodized gelatin I perceived her encounter with her Breton husband…”

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