Arnaud Magnier at the School of Taste
Elected Chef of the Year 2005 by Gault Millau Benelux, Arnaud Magnier has been heading the cuisine of the Restaurant Clairefontaine for 14 years. A success that he shares namely with his wife … and his parents.
Fine cooks themselves, mother and father Magnier took their son to star-awarded restaurants before he could walk on his own. At the age of five young Arnaud started saying “I will be a chef!” He grows up developing a talent for tennis – French classification 15 – and embarks on his journey into cuisine at the age of 14 at Dijon’s Hotel Management School. With his diploma in his pocket he starts his career in Mâcon, at the “Rocher de Cancale”, where he comes across a trainee named Edwige. She will become his wife and still works side by side with him at the Clairefontaine. Whenever they have some spare time, they take, of course, their two children to good restaurants!
Arnaud Magnier was working with Bernard Loiseau at the “Côte d’Or” when the famous restaurant in Saulieu was awarded its third Michelin star in 1990. One year later, he is conscripted into the army … serving at the Elysée! He returns from this stay behind the scenes of this palace at the time of François Mitterand with innumerable anecdotes. Later, he is second-in-command at “La Barbacane” in Carcassonne when the restaurant is awarded its second star. In 1998, Bernard Loiseau contacts Arnaud again and asks him to launch his first restaurant in Paris, “Tante Louise” – a success! When Tony Tintinger calls and suggests he take over the Clairefontaine, the time has come for him to work on his own. Selling the Clairefontaine, the former proprietor gives back his star. Arnaud catches up in one season!
“I have not invented anything”. Mister Magnier is not one of the chefs who pretend revolutionising cooking. He relies on three traditional fundamentals: the product, the product, and the product. Looking at his creations you will find an unchanging quartet: It starts out crispy to make you chew in order to fine-tune your perception of tastes. Then it becomes mellow as a contrast to the starting point. There is volume for the pleasure of your eyes and there are textures to stimulate your curiosity. His scallops with celery and truffles could be considered his “Signature” dish, but his royal hare gives a marvellous summary of his style: All parts of the animal are dissociated, prepared separately and in various ways, and reassembled when served in order to spoil gourmets.