An Interview with Alfred Prasad and Pascal Aussignac

An Interview with Alfred Prasad and Pascal Aussignac

by Great British Chefs 09 April 2015

In light of Silver Screen Cuisine - our immersive food screening of The Hundred-Foot Journey - we caught up with Alfred Prasad and Pascal Aussignac, who have created a wonderful menu for the event.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

How do you know each other and have you both ever worked together before?

Alfred Prasad (AP): I first met Pascal at Taste of London many years ago and liked him instantly. He is a very talented chef and a fun person to know. We were comrades for Action Against Hunger’s India Cycle Challenge in Oct 2014. We were roommates for the10 days, and to share a fun but difficult adventure together really bonded our friendship even further.

Pascal Aussignac (PA): There was a good vibe on the trip and it was nice for me to have this kind of a partner in crime who was Indian because it was helpful for me to understand more about the country and know more about the dishes and the texture of the dishes.

Can you give us a taster of what you are concocting for the audience?

AP: I have designed a menu inspired by the very essence of the movie and some of the key moments in its story. Ideas I am working on are: ‘Masala omelette à la Alfred’ and ‘Chicken Tikka wrap’ to name a couple. But everything is still a work in progress.

PA: In the movie you’ve got a scene of an omelette being made with some Indian spices, and I think this is one of the highlights, because it’s like a revelation for the actress when she takes her first bite. The chef comes from India with no knowledge of French cuisine. It is the moment when she realises (even if she doesn’t want to say it) - that this guy is a superb and talented chef. I like this moment because an omelette is something very simple, but it is very technical, and not many chefs are able to make a proper one.

The chefs, who have been friends for some years, are teaming up to create a special menu for the night
'There is a full interaction between the movie and us, in our life in London as well'

How are you hoping the audience will respond to the experience?

PA: I will try and get a slice of these flavours – the point is that you have a cross culture between French and Indian food. It is more about trying to mix spices in French cuisine. It is interesting because the film is a reflection of who we are and where we are from. I am French obviously and Alfred is Indian and we are both Michelin-starred chefs which means it is all connected. There is a full interaction between the movie and us, in our life in London as well.

AP: I am hoping it will be a complete feast of the senses. That they feel transported to that little village in France and revel in that heartwarming joie de vivre the movie exudes.

Where do you find inspiration for your dishes from? Would you say you pick up most of your inspiration when travelling?

AP: Travels certainly offer wonderful inspiration. They offer an opening of the mind to new cuisines and cultures that has been a big part of my own evolution as a chef. I find the limitlessness of cuisineology very inspiring – to learn, to un-learn, to create, to evolve.

PA: Personally I like Asian food, so last year I went three times to Tokyo, Shanghai, Singapore and Bali. I have tried to understand more about the different populations living in Asia and to see where we could fit the Club Gascon or one of our restaurants there, because I believe that specialising in duck is something that Asian people are keen to eat, and to have this French touch on it. I strongly believe that there could be a space there, in Asia – more than in the States and much more than in Latin America. To me, there is a natural progression to go East, more than West.

What impact does being recognised by Michelin have on you both?

PA: Michelin pushes you. You give more because you’ve reached the level of one star. Over thirteen years at Gascon I’ve got one star and my dream is to get two stars. You know you are never satisfied, you want to do more, you want to be more precise on details and more consistent and to be even more creative even if you are already. You spend so much time with the pressure of delivering – it is an act of life – you are delivering service twice a day, and anything could happen. It is like you are going on stage with actors. It is not recorded; it is a fresh product, a live product and you need to deliver.

AP: The Michelin recognition is an added and important reward for what we should be doing anyway. When pursuing excellence, every path seems longer, harder and ensuring consistency along that journey makes it doubly so.