Pascal Aussignac

Pascal Aussignac

Pascal Aussignac

Pascal’s distinct flourishes, such as edible flowers – pleasing both to the eye and palate – are an integral part of his cooking style. He’s also instrumental in popularising small plates, serving food in such a manner (before it became a trend) out of sheer practicality. The food of Gascony is rich and hearty – smaller portions prevent overload, and are more convenient for urban diners. 'Club Gascon is the first French restaurant to design its menu as tapas in the world, not only in France,' he says. 'In a city like London where people are working, you can have two or three plates, you can share, you can do whatever you want – design your own menu format.'

As well as a Michelin star, which has been maintained for over a decade, Pascal's inventive approach to southwestern French cuisine has also won him the top accolade at the Taste of London festival no less than three times, where foie gras and truffle burgers and Marmite Royale with soldiers impressed judges with their ingenuity.

In 2009, Pascal’s book Cuisinier Gascon: Meals from a Gascon Chef was published. Awarded Best French Cookbook by Gourmand Award, it has an introduction by food legend Pierre Koffmann, whose Memories of Gascony tome is regarded as a classic. This is sound praise indeed. A tribute to Pascal’s homeland, it’s evocative, celebratory and warmly authoritative. 'Call it a traveller's companion with recipes,' says Pascal, 'made for everyday people, not chefs.'

Alongside quaffable wines and Armagnac, the bold flavours of foie gras, duck and cassoulet are as much part of Gascony’s culinary psyche as Brie and baguettes are to the Francophile’s food dream. With earthy ingredients, Pascal makes proverbial silk purses out of sows’ ears (his light, crispy pigs' ears are proof of this). The chef harnesses the potent earthiness of southwestern French cuisine with deftness and grace. He’s an artisan as comfortable serving Cassolette of snails and anchovies or Duck Pot-au-feu as he is Primavera tulips or Gladiola petals and spicy violet pearls (violets are emblematic of Toulouse).

Pascal believes that 'the way to make taste is to have no more than three flavours. More than three tastes on the plate and you start to be lost.' He applies this policy to arranging flowers, which he does for Club Gascon, finding 'the creation of texture, colour and beauty very similar to cooking.'

Three things you need to know

In October 2014, Pascal joined twenty other chefs and industry figures – including his good friend Alfred Prasad – on a 400km cycle challenge across Rajasthan, with the aim of raising £100,000 for Action Against Hunger.

In 2013 Pascal was named Restaurant Chef of the Year at the Craft Guild of Chefs Awards.

Pascal still rarely takes time off, preferring to cook instead.