Subliming 'terroir' in season while constantly pushing the boundaries to find new ways to explore Taste through art, technology, and multi sensoriality.
Photo by John Musnicki
Frédéric Robert discovered his passion for good food at a very young age. Born in Burgundy, he grew up in the French countryside, where he got his love for 'terroir' products. After getting his culinary degree in France, Frédéric then pursued an international career working in both five starred Hotels and Michelin starred Restaurants in Europe and Asia before becoming the Executive Pastry Chef at the prestigious Peninsula Hotel in New York. His experience with the multi award winning, three Michelin starred Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet restaurant in Shanghai has led him to move to New York where he opened the French Bistro L'Antagoniste in Brooklyn. After having his restaurant named one of the 25 best new restaurants in America by Gear Patrol, Frédéric was also invited to cook a Bastille Day Dinner at the James Beard Foundation.
Always keen on pushing boundaries to find new ways to explore Taste, his collaboration with the immersive multi-sensorial event agency Epicurean Nights New York - of which he’s culinary director – allows him to blur the lines between Gastronomy, Art, and Sustainability. Frédéric’s authenticity and humility make him one of the most engaging and brilliant Chefs of his generation.
Welcome Frédéric to Chefs for Impact !
By Frédéric Robert as told to Chefs for Impact
What are your best practices for a more responsible gastronomy?
“Buy local. The Farmers’ markets in New York are an incredible resource. We are also lucky to have access to a large range of locally sourced products through distributors like Baldor. Amish products from Pennsylvania are of excellent quality, as are those from the Upstate Farms cooperative, which brings together nearly 340 family owned farms from Upstate New York. Baldor, which usually only caters to restaurants, pivoted to home deliveries due to the covid-19 outbreak. This helps raise consumer awareness of local seasonal produce while providing access to high quality ingredients. A lot of things need to be questioned about our consumption patterns. For many, going to the supermarket is like being on autopilot and shopping without questioning the origin, the taste, or the seasonality. Everyone at his or her own level needs to rethink their priorities and how we want to spend our dollars. It's now or never. We must take action now.”
How can Chefs educate consumers even more?
“I know it sounds obvious but a Chef has to cook with seasonal ingredients. Do not offer tomatoes to your clients when there aren't in season! For celebrity Chefs, take advantage of the media coverage to get your message across.
Chefs can do their best but there is a missing link between the Chef and the consumer. As long as supermarkets will have the exact same offer year-round it will be hard to make things happen. The food industry has created this suffocating blanket over consumers around the world. We, Chefs, can pass on the message but the role of governments is key.”
Where does Taste lie in tomorrow's gastronomy?
“It is imperative to reduce our consumption of processed food. I am thinking about meat substitutes. These products certainly meet a demand and solve part of the problem. But this is still industrialization. Do we really need even more processing in our food? There are other ways of getting flavor and nutritional benefits. Eat more quality fruits and vegetables, consume more spices, advocate variety, and be curious! The question of origin must become systematic in the purchasing process because it is a guarantee of quality. Now is the time. We have the power to change things. In just a few weeks, it's incredible and very inspiring to see all the ideas and initiatives that have come to life. This movement must not falter.”