Updated: Feb 1
A crisis can represent the opportunity to reconnect with the terroir and the flavors, to deepen one's knowledge of produce, and to support local agriculture and communities.
Photo by Virginie Lemesle
French chef, Frédéric Aumeunier, has worked in prestigious kitchens alongside renowned chefs such as Anne Sophie Pic and Alain Ducasse. He did his apprenticeship in Vienne, at La Pyramide – the first restaurant ever to be awarded a 3rd Michelin – where he discovered a true passion for gastronomy. His solid experience, with 16 years working in Michelin-starred restaurants in France and England, led him to become Sous-Chef of the triple star restaurant Per Se in New York City, owned by Chef Thomas Keller.
Frédéric is an entrepreneur at heart who seizes opportunities as they arise. He’s also a passionate, generous chef who has not hesitated for a second to support local farmers and communities during these difficult times. Mid-March when the shutdown mandate arrived and Per Se closed its doors, Aumeunier volunteered to help a farmer, Zaid Kurdieh, assemble Norwich Meadows farm’s produce boxes. His role quickly evolved into overseeing logistics and selling produce on the farm stand. An enriching experience that allowed him to reconnect with the land, seasonality and taste. These last few months have also been an opportunity for him to give virtual healthy cooking classes in collaboration with “What women want”. Even if the future is still uncertain, one thing is for sure: Frédéric Aumeunier confirms that he is busier now than if he worked in the kitchen!
Welcome Frederic to Chefs for Impact!
By Frederic Aumeunier as told to Chefs for Impact
Where does your passion for terroir, agriculture and cooking come from?
"It must be hereditary. Son of restaurateurs, I have always been close to farms because my grandfather was a farmer in Loire, France. I used to spend my vacations growing and harvesting fruits and vegetables. I also learned how to raise cattle and work in the vineyard. This is something that has always interested me. Paradoxically, I distanced myself from these values from my first steps working in haute gastronomy...”
Why is that?
"Because sometimes in fine dining restaurants, you tend to look for the perfect shape and focus on the visual aspect rather than the taste. It is not rare to fly baby zucchinis from Kenya, which spent 10 days in transport, followed by a month in cellophane. It is certainly pretty but has no gustatory interest. I lost my points of reference of taste for many years because of that.