Describing how they work together to create menus, he told us: “We have some dishes that we can’t take off the menu, because people ask for them”, such as the best-selling stuffed quail served with Robuchon’s famous pommes purée. However, he continues “the lunch menu changes quite often and we have total freedom with that. Take for example the Snails served on a watercress coulis with garlic crisps, and the Confit milk-fed lamb in mild spices, the Black cod served with Malabar pepper sauce as well, basically all those dishes are ours. Because I’ve been working with Robuchon for so many years, so my cooking is kind of his cooking, but I also have my own way, my own style. Of course it’s influenced by him, but I have a lot of freedom here. He trusts me, he knows that and whatever I’m doing it is in his spirit.”
This autonomy also extends to creating dishes for guests from scratch, as they wait. He says: “I love to create things instantly, for example for my regular guests. We discuss ingredients, we taste a few things and then we go for it. I love to do that. I won’t do that for people that don’t know me yet, because they might not understand it, but I will for regular guests.”
Describing his own, individual, cooking identity, Xavier Boyer says: “My influences are more southern – the Mediterranean, because I have family from over there. My background is there. I like working with seasonal produce, things that are very fresh – you can easily identify the flavours.” His John Dory fillet with aubergine caviar and avocado extra virgin oil is an excellent example of this. He continues: “I also travel a lot, all over the world now, so I take a lot of inspiration from that”. His plates generally centre on four main flavours – he says: “you need to be able to identify what you are eating. When you taste something, you should know what it is. If you have to ask the waiter ‘Sorry, what is that?’ – that’s not our concept.”
He told the Staff Canteen of a dish that encapsulates his style – the marriage of international influences with his southern French background: “There’s a gyoza which I think really reflects my cooking style. Gyoza is a crispy ravioli that you cook on the stove. It’s Asian, but ours starts with veal shank that’s cooked in a style from the south of France, with a lot of tomatoes and other ingredients.”
And it is with these kinds of imaginative, incredibly flavourful combinations that Xavier Boyer has achieved remarkable success – in charge of two different kitchens as they won their second Michelin stars and entrusted by the most Michelin-decorated chef in the world to lead several of his most important venues.
In 2016, Xavier left L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon to seek new challenges.