Meet Chef Sylvain Moretto
French Hotel Barge Enchante
Classically-trained French chef, Sylvain Moretto, has been the master chef aboard Enchanté for ten seasons, with an additional three seasons aboard Renaissance. Read about life as a barge chef on the tranquil Canal du Midi…
What is your favourite dish to make on board?
I love making my ‘saumon en croûte de sel’ (salmon in a salt crust) because it’s a show for the guests from start to finish. On the barge, I like to stage it as a cooking demonstration so that guests can try it at home and impress their friends and family. I’ve had quite a few email discussions with former guests about how it went with that and other recipes I’ve shared. I love it when the guests really take an interest in cooking.
What’s the inspiration behind it?
Early in my professional career, I worked for two years in the Dijon restaurant ‘Saumon Cook’, which as you can guess, specialised in salmon cooked many different ways. I first adapted one of the recipes by adding fresh vegetables and herbs to impress my first barge chef boss. It worked! I’ve continued to tweak the recipe since.
Which destinations have inspired you, and how has that inspiration translated into your cooking/menus?
I have Italian blood and I love Italy (though don’t speak Italian, alas). It’s a classic answer but I love the food in Rome. They use fresh ingredients to make simple, homemade food,with a Roman flair and they take such a pride in their cuisine. I’d describe my cooking style as ‘classic Burgundy fused with light Mediterranean’.
Who do you consider to be your culinary hero?
The late Jean-Pierre Coffe was an inspiration to me. He was a great French chef but not only that, becoming also a celebrated radio and TV presenter. He was what we call an ‘epicurean’. He brought his genuine personality to his cooking and was never too serious, loving to eat and laugh.
Who would you compare your cooking style with?
I don’t really like to compare my food to other chefs as over the past 20 years I’ve strived to create my own style based on my classic French training. However, it was Jean-Christophe, that first barge chef boss, on the Abercrombie barge in Burgundy, who first taught me the specific art of ‘barge-cheffing’ and that has stuck with me.
In terms of the style of how I work, I aspire to compare myself to the aforementioned Jean-Pierre Coffe as I love working in my open kitchen in front of the guests and enjoy sharing the cooking process and a laugh with them.
What is your favourite food city?
I travel a lot and always sample the local cuisine. Its very difficult to pick just one city. I particularly enjoy the flavours found across the Asian continent, particularly in Sri Lanka and Vietnam.
In Europe I’d say Rome, for the reasons above. Consistently simple, fresh flavours and passion for food.
Name 3 ingredients you cannot live without
- Olive oil
- Cream fraîche
- Fresh herbs are essential in any dish I make. Chives, tarragon and mint I use the most. With those you can make sauces, give taste and cook healthy, dishes.
Next big foodie trend?
This is a good question for a French chef, as French cuisine had always been considered a world standard, based on its consistent quality. However, this never encouraged innovation and ‘trends’ and so while a lot of fads and fashions took off around the world, French cuisine didn’t change much until recently.
The classic French ‘haute cuisine’ style you learn at trade school is based on just 3 different ways of cooking: fried; slow and covered; and fried then slow: ‘Concentration, expansion et mixte’.
Now, we are seeing a lot more fusion on the scene as the French are starting to travel abroad more and bring back ideas, There’s smoked slow cooking, wok-based dishes, different types of bread, non-European herbs, African hibiscus etc.
In the food world in general, with increasing awareness of world problems, there seems to be a trend towards more organic, less meat and sugar and also less plastic packaging.
Describe life as a barge chef in 3 words
About The French Hotel Barge Enchante
|Enchanté moored in Le Somail
Sample Chef Sylvain’s cooking aboard Enchanté
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