In 2009, chef Sébastien Bras took over the kitchens at Le Suquet, the world-famous restaurant and hotel that’s perched on a hill above the Aubrac in the southern Massif Central of France. Sébastien’s father Michel won three Michelin stars there for his nouvelle cuisine creations including gargouillou (a warm salad of vegetables and herbs) and soft centred ‘chocolate coulant’ that inspired a thousand chocolate fondants. In his first cookbook, Sébastien offers his own updated variations; a ‘raw’ summer gargouillou made with 120 varieties of vegetables, some grown in the restaurant’s kitchen garden, and a curry cream coulant inspired by a trip to India.
Many of the remaining 38 recipes also reflect the chef’s world travels, some of which are documented in the book, including a trip to the Sahara that inspired a dish of sand-baked taguella bread made with millet flour, semolina and honey and filled with air-dried courade sausage, and visits to Japan (until 2020, there was a Bras restaurant in Hokkaido) where Sébastien first tried the fried pork-loin gyoza that he serves with tangy carrot jus and chrysanthemums.
In addition to discovering his feelings about the Michelin guide (Sébastien famously ‘handed back’ the restaurant’s three Michelin stars in 2017), the book also tells the stories behind the creation of two of the chef’s signature dishes. The ‘miwam’ (a made-up word) is a filled wheat and spelt galette/waffle cooked in a special mould made by Sébastien’s engineer brother William and sold at The Café Bras in Rodez in the south of France; the ‘gouttière’ is its fine dining cousin, a potato waffle made from wavy tuiles sandwiched with hazelnut butter cream and drizzled with salted butter caramel.
The stunning photography documenting the food, life at the restaurant and the austere beauty of the Aubrac through the seasons, and essays on the Bras family, restaurant team, producers and culinary techniques add up to a compelling picture of an extraordinary enterprise that will inspire any keen home cook or chef.
Suitable for: Confident home cooks and chefs
Cookbook Review Rating: Four stars
Buy this book: Bras by Sebastian Bras
This review originally appeared in The Caterer magazine.