Podcast Episode 14

European Food Culture with Escoffier Chef Instructor

Jesper Jonsson | 37 Minutes | September 7, 2021

In this episode, we speak with Jesper Jonsson, Chef Instructor at Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts in Boulder, Colorado, and a 37-year industry veteran.

Jesper moved to the south of France from Denmark at the age of 12, where he received his formal culinary education and training. He has worked as a private chef in numerous countries including France, Denmark, Switzerland, Italy, and the United States – and even served as chef of the Danish ambassador in Rome.

Jesper is a recipient of the Disciple d’Escoffier award and a board member of the American Culinary Federation (ACF).

Listen as we chat with Chef Jesper about European food culture, being a private chef, life as a chef instructor, and the value of culinary education.

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Notes & Transcript

TRANSCRIPT

Kirk Bachmann: Hi everyone. My name is Kirk Bachmann, and welcome back to The Ultimate Dish. In today’s episode, we’re speaking with Chef Jesper Jonsson, a chef with over 37 years in the culinary industry. He is currently a chef instructor at the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts in Boulder, Colorado. At age 12, Jesper moved to the south of France from Denmark, where he received his formal culinary education and training. He has experience as a private chef in numerous countries, including France, Denmark, Switzerland, Italy, and right here in the United States. Jesper has also received the Disciples d’Escoffier Award, and is a formal board member of the American Culinary Federation.

Join us today as we chat with Chef Jesper about his experience in the European culinary industry, being a private chef, life as a chef instructor, and the value of culinary education.

Guten Morgen, Chef. Alles in Ordnung?

Jesper Jonsson: Guten Morgen, ja. Alles in Ordnung. Danke. That’s the extent of my German.

Kirk Bachmann: Is that it? That’s all I get.

Jesper Jonsson: That’s it, that’s all you get.

Kirk Bachmann: It’s good to see you, buddy. I appreciate you being here today.

Jesper Jonsson: Likewise.

The Need for Speed

Kirk Bachmann: I have to start: so many folks, particularly chefs that we speak with, have this love for speed, this need for speed. It’s either a motorcycle, it’s music, it’s both. Am I correct in understand that this European chef in front of me is an avid Jeep aficionado? Are you a Jeep fan? You’re up in the mountains. Tell me about that. I had no idea.

Jesper Jonsson: Yes. We’re so fortunate. We live here in Colorado. Absolutely. As gravity takes over when you get older, hikes are not so exciting anymore, so Jeeping makes up for it.

Kirk Bachmann: So is it like a stripped down, or jacked up type of Jeep?

Jesper Jonsson: I would say it is moderately modified. [Inaudible [00:02:06] The need for speed has always been around. I like fast cars, also. I have a Dodge Viper just to make up for when you come off the mountains and it is too slow, we go out and race that on the track.

Kirk Bachmann: I love it. I love the consistency of the need for speed. In terms of elevation, the benchmark in the state of Colorado is 14,000. A mountain that is 14,000 feet high is high, right. There are 64 of those in Colorado, I believe. What altitude are you taking this Jeep up to?

Jesper Jonsson: I can tell you that there is an Escoffier sticker up at Back Bear Pass and Imogene and Engineer down by Telluride and that’s 12,500 feet or so.

Kirk Bachmann: Oh my gosh. Question answered. I love it. I love it. I don’t know if I’ll be looking for the sticker anytime soon. I’ll just take your word for it.

Fashion and Food

I am so happy you’re here today. We’ve known each other for a minute. You have a very unique background, one that stories are written about, books are written about. I’m going to try to unpeel all of it here today. I have an unbelievable appreciation for the chefs of Europe if you will, the cuisine of Europe, whether in Scandinavia, coming down through Germany, perhaps even France and Spain.

So you were born in Denmark, and around the age of 12 or so, you relocated to the south of France with your family. Did you appreciate food already as a 12-year-old? Was that part of your DNA before you headed down to the south of France?

Jesper Jonsson: Absolutely. Always has been. I was fortunate to grow up in a household where food was very important. My parents were in the fashion business, so we basically spent all vacations in France, starting in Paris with some kind of fashion show of something. Then, it was always trying to find a restaurant with snails on the menu. That was the go-to, because that was usually what I was all into. My parents were all excited, having a kid eat snails in garlic butter at the age of nine, ten. Food has always been huge in our family.

Kirk Bachmann: The snails, the escargot, for example, not available in Denmark, I imagine, right?

Jesper Jonsson: No. Absolutely not. That and frog legs. We didn’t have much of that going on.

Kirk Bachmann: That’s amazing. Then you’re in the south of France. Your family’s in the fashion business. When did you know that, “I’m going to cook for a living. That’s what I want to do”?

Jesper Jonsson: I started cooking school at the age of 17. Graduated from middle school. At that point, that was, obviously, the industry to get into in the south of France. It’s touristy, a very touristy place. I’ve always liked food. I cooked quite a bit before starting cooking school. What better place than being in France and being in the culinary industry! Even back then, I was already in my mind, being ready to travel and see the world. There is no better profession to travel the world than a culinary degree.

Kirk Bachmann: Absolutely. Talk to us about the south of France. I’m trying to get the logistics. Are we closer to Nice or…

Jesper Jonsson: I grew up in Menton. That is actually the border-town to Italy by the Mediterranean Ocean.

Kirk Bachmann: I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry that you had to go through that.

Jesper Jonsson: it was hard. The mountains on the left-hand side were facing the ridge of the mountains with the border of Italy, and then another five miles west of there was Monaco. Then from Menton to Nice is probably 20 to 25 miles, that’s it. Another 20 miles after that, you’re in Cannes. Menton, Monaco, Nice and Cannes, that was where I worked the first four years after graduating.

Kirk Bachmann: And then Ville Lu Du’Bais, where Auguste Escoffier is from, right in that vicinity, right?

Jesper Jonsson: yes. That’s between Nice and Cannes, up from a town called Altibe. It’s up in the backcountry up there.

Connections with Major Culinary Figures

Kirk Bachmann: It’s hard to imagine. We know the significance of Escoffier and his impact on our profession and education and professionalism, but you actually attended a school that also took his name. It was part of a university, right?

Jesper Jonsson: Yes, absolutely. Working in Monaco, obviously Escoffier was hugely important since he used to be the executive chef at the Hôtel de Paris, and I actually have worked at Hôtel de Paris, in the old kitchens before they remodeled it and Alain Ducasse? came in. So that was kind of exciting.

Also, in the same ownership of Hôtel de Paris, the SBM ownership, there was a hotel right behind it called L’Hermitage and the atrium in that hotel was actually designed by Eiffel, which is, in itself, pretty unique. And the executive chef there was a kitchen boy when Escoffier was the executive chef.

Kirk Bachmann: Does it give you chills when you think about it? Did you ever think – fast forward – that you would be working with Escoffier and carrying the legacy?

Jesper Jonsson: No. Back then I sort of thought everybody knows Escoffier.

Kirk Bachmann: Sure.

Jesper Jonsson: But he is a legend, right? Having that already as a background and the foundations for what Escoffier truly means was unique. Then in ‘86, the cooking school in Villeneuve-Loubet opened up and was named after Escoffier because, of course, that was where he was born and grew up, and where the museum is at. That was the first year in France that there was a government – Department of Education-recognized education program. My culinary instructor that I had had for two years in Menton was the one that started this. His name is Montagard a very, very unique individual, and has founded basically the non-GMO and vegetarian organization in France, if you want. We were fortunate enough to be part of the opening of it and do all the beta testing of all the recipes. It was absolutely amazing. Incredible.

The Culture of Southern France

Kirk Bachmann: in 2015, I had the great pleasure of accompanying several online Escoffier students to that area, to visit the museum, to dine in Nice, and meet with Michel Escoffier. What I was amazed by – the locals call it “nee-chay” – it felt like the most beautiful place in the world. I felt like there was this Italian mixed with French culture like I’ve never seen anywhere, and I was particularly moved by the cuisine. Heavily influenced by vegetables, also heavily influenced by the Mediterranean. The seafood was beautiful, the bouillabaisse was like nothing I’ve ever experienced.

Talk about that culture a little bit. Is it a beautiful place to live, to have a business, to come up in the industry? Or was there that pressure of being in Cannes, Monaco…lots of expectations, from a culinary perspective?

Jesper Jonsson: Yes. Absolutely. There’s no doubt that there has always been a distinct race for Michelin stars in south of France, in terms of cuisine. Back then it was Roger Vergé, that was obviously the biggest chef down there. But mixed into that, there is also the more laid back of the southern regions of Europe, which is definitely healthier to live in.

It also goes down to simplicity. You have yourself a drop of olive oil from Nice, and its as good as it gets. The bread is amazing, of course you know the cheeses are amazing. The vegetables are incredible, and you buy them every day. You go to the market every day. You pick the two zucchinis you want, the one onion that you need, and the one pepper that you need for today, because you’re going back tomorrow. Your refrigerators at home are small because you spend time on food. Food is family. Family is value. That’s what the south of France is all about.

Having the Mediterranean ocean and the seafood that comes out of it is absolutely phenomenal. The backland have lamb, goats, goat cheese, sheep cheese. Incredible. Absolutely amazing. And not to forget the citrus.

Kirk Bachmann: Absolutely. And the rosé. The rosé all day.

Jesper Jonsson: All day.

A Journey of Experience

Kirk Bachmann: You’re through culinary school. You’re working in the region, I think you said, four years. What motivated you to leave that area? Did you know that you wanted more, or that you needed experience? Were you ultimately going to return? Talk about the journey a little bit.

Jesper Jonsson: At the age of 18, when I graduated with my basic training, before the year at Villeneuve-Loubet, I had already made a battle plan as to how I could start to build my resume so I could, obviously, move up in the ranks. In that time, I basically spent about six to eight months in different locations. I managed to, altogether, work about eight Michelin stars during those years, so that I was a little more of an attractive employee to go and headhunt.

I did that. In those four years, I spent two summer seasons in Copenhagen working at a [place] called Alsace, the restaurant Alsace, after the region in France, but it was owned by an Austrian chef. Going back home and working with north Atlantic seafood. Denmark has incredible dairy products and quite the interesting mushrooms, etc.

Through all these connections throughout, that is when I got approached for the first job to move to Rome in 1990 and work with the Danish ambassador in Rome. Of course, that was pretty hard to refuse. So in 1990, I packed my stuff and drove five and half hours south and ended up in Rome.

Kirk Bachmann: So some of it is serendipitous. You’re talented. You’re growing, and people are noticing. I think that’s a great message for young culinarians who are listening to the show.

You mention Alain Ducasse, Chef Ducasse needs no introduction. Were you a young apprentice at the time that Ducasse started really making a name for himself, or was he already established in the region?

Jesper Jonsson: He was definitely established. The name escapes me now, but he was over in [unintelligible] at a very infamous hotel over there, a hotel, resort, restaurant over there, and was definitely the young chef that was moving up. This was in the mid-to-late 80s. When he got hired on at Hôtel de Paris at Louis XV, that was a very, very big change, obviously, in Monaco. That’s traditionally been other chefs moving up. That was sort of the prize, to become the chef at Hôtel de Paris at the end, but they broke with tradition and had someone from outside the company come. Of course, after that, that was history. Louis XV at Hôtel de Paris in Monaco is, well, I don’t think it gets any better anywhere. Talk about the jet set of the world!

Life as a Private Chef

Kirk Bachmann: So the experience is staggering. You’ve worked in several countries, different cultures. What is life as a private chef like versus being in a reputable hotel or free-standing restaurant? Can you talk a little bit about that?

Jesper Jonsson: Sure. I will say that since I worked twelve years for the Danish farm industry as a private chef for diplomats, which has definitely a lot of security around it. Housing. Salary. A plane ticket back and forth. Health insurance. Should something happen, you’re pretty close to the guys that can help you get home, because that’s also what embassies do, right?

The opportunity there were kind of mind-blowing, because they really were up to each individual what they would do with what they had. The budgets were pretty large. Remember, there’s no other expense. Everything else was taken care of, so it was exclusively food costs. When you have $30 per person to go out and buy groceries per person, you can buy some pretty nice stuff.

I thought the highlight of staying interesting was make three- or four-course meals that were, first of all, balanced. Not repetitive. Healthy to a certain extent, because these are people that will go out and eat lunches probably four or five times a week. The same thing for dinners. If you would load them up, you can very well imagine that afternoon meetings are not going to be productive. It was always a matter of balancing.

Kirk Bachmann: Some of your educational training was in that area of vegetarian cooking specifically, right? That will help your [menu] be a little lighter. That must have played well into the creation of menus for diplomats, right?

Jesper Jonsson: Absolutely. I think it’s very dominant in my cooking today, the love for vegetables that I have. I tell my all my students and everybody I’ve ever worked with: if you want to make a great meal, spend time on the vegetables and the starches, because the protein more or less cooks itself. If you want to make a great dinner, it’s what goes along. For most people, the star attraction, that’s what makes it a great meal.

Kirk Bachmann: When you’re working in an embassy for various diplomats and such, do you find that you’re on call all the time? Difficult to start a family in that environment.

Jesper Jonsson: Absolutely it is. You never quite know how long you’re going to stay at a place, because your contract is up every year. Now, I’ve always found that exciting, and I would say our profession in general, if you’ve built a decent resume to begin with, you can always find a job. A decent job, not just finding a job.

I would say with quite a few of these diplomats, that we actually became friends through the years because it really is a team sport. Being a diplomat, I was very fortunate to work for an ambassador [unintelligible] that was running for head of security council at United Nations. She won. That is a very, very big title. The first thing she did when she came back was shake my hand and say, “I couldn’t have done it without you.”

Kirk Bachmann: Isn’t that something?!

Jesper Jonsson: The power of food. The power of food to schmooze every single country definitely worked out. That was a huge experience, and the best compliment I’ve ever gotten.

Kirk Bachmann: That’s an amazing story.

Food Tour of Europe

Let’s talk a little bit about food culture, particularly in Europe. Obviously, the Scandinavian connection, you’ve cooked in France. You’ve cooked in Italy. Can you take us on a little tour of the commonalities and the differences? You already mentioned in Denmark you’ve got this beautiful dairy and that sort of thing. Walk us through a quick food tour, starting with your homeland.

Jesper Jonsson: Sure. You cannot talk about food without talking about beverages also, because it culturally goes together.

Kirk Bachmann: I’m not going to push back on that!

Jesper Jonsson: Denmark climate has its ups and downs. If you like rain, it’s a great place to be, with 300 days of it. But it also helps tremendously with agriculture. Denmark does not have a very warm climate, but the vegetables that do grow are quite amazing: cucumbers, tomatoes are fantastic. Anything that is root vegetables grow there. We eat lots of leeks, lots of cabbage – fermented or not. Then of course, just through history, there is a lot of preserving food, because that is the old school. You might obviously know gravlax or smoked salmon. We also do pickled herrings and we pickle condiments more than you can imagine. Mustards are a big, big, big thing. There’s a lot of seasonality in Denmark. Potatoes when they’re in season, the skin is so thin you can peel them just rubbing them in your fingers.

Kirk Bachmann: Right out of the soil.

Jesper Jonsson: Nice sandy soil. Those fresh [inaudible] there with sweat-down onions and the cream sauce with herrings on the side. Believe it or not, take my word for it, it’s pretty unique. And of course, we use a lot of herbs. Anything that’s green you can chop, it’s going to go on top of your potatoes, on top of your meats.

Then there’s a lot of brining going on. Pork is a main protein in Denmark. Most cattle is used for cheese, which is a huge, huge, huge, huge industry where we come from. Cream products, fermented dairy products. There are some regions of Denmark that have a very similar sort of sausage tradition and cured meats, just like the northern park of Germany, since Denmark is landlocked with Germany for a good part of it.

And butter. Don’t forget butter, because that was the biggest shock moving to France, when you put a piece of butter on a plate, you put the plate out on the terrace, and the butter’s melted on the plate before you get to eat it. We’re not used to that in Denmark because it doesn’t get that hot. It took my family a long time to figure out, “Let’s try olive oil instead.” Because it’s already melted.

Kirk Bachmann: Perfect lesson. I love that.

Jesper Jonsson: Then, of course, living in France after that, driving through Germany every single holiday. Driving up and then driving back down two weeks later. Incredible food there. I will say the highlight in my book of German food is cooking wild game. I don’t know anybody that can do it better. It is down to earth, well done, good stuff. Then, of course, also, Germany – condiments, fermented foods, lots and lots of it. Oxsvanssoppa. The oxtail soup is one of my absolutely favorites.

Then of course, France, where we would just use the traditions and techniques that we teach here. I believe with a strong French background in techniques. There are very few cuisines that will give you a run for your money, and that’s what we teach here at the school. I grew up in that school of traditional French techniques. That’s what I emphasize and teach to my students: understand your techniques and your cooking techniques and your knife cuts, and you’ll notice that all of a sudden, cooking gets incredibly demystified.

I’m fortunate enough to teach the foundations classes, the new kitchen classes. I always start out by telling them, “In 29 days, cookbooks will no longer be guides, they will be inspirational because you know how to do every single text in these cookbooks to how to actually apply your cooking techniques to your food.

Local Differences in French vs. U.S. Cuisine

Of course, the geographical heritage in France and in Italy is much, much bigger than we’re used to here. In France, you eat certain foods in certain regions. When you’re not in that region, you probably can’t find that food, necessarily, in restaurants because it is all locally produced, and skill sets that is linked to the geography in which you live. When you talked earlier about being south of France, and olive oil, and the vegetables, and the fish, and the bouillabaisse, which is a dish that you mentioned. You’re not going to get a bouillabaisse in Dijon or in Paris, because that would make absolutely no sense.

Kirk Bachmann: It’s part of the culture. Everyone knows that. The locals know it, and they’re proud of that. Are we moving in that direction here in the United States as well, Chef?

Jesper Jonsson: I don’t think that we are in terms of history and geography. I think we are in terms of availability. If you’re thinking about endives, for example – we cooked endives yesterday. To me, when I think of endives, I think of Normandy. I think of boiled ham, I think of Bechamel. I think of cream sauces, I can’t help it, but then I think about a Brie cheese, because that’s that region. That is the French heritage that you have. That’s how you think of food there. Here, I don’t think we necessarily would connect a steak to Kansas, or lamb to Colorado, or whatever. We can find the products and make it, and we like it. When I think of lamb, I think of rosemary and thyme, I think of the mountains, arid country. What grows with that? Well, tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, artichokes, olives, because that’s what grows where they feed in south of France. Therefore, those ingredients go together.

Kirk Bachmann: So much knowledge. You said earlier, it applies to beverages as well. Cognac comes from Cognac. [Armenac from Armenac [00:26:09] Chablis from Chablis. It’s just the way it is.

Jesper Jonsson: Champagne from Champagne, otherwise it’s hard to order.

Kirk Bachmann: You have to end up there. Exactly.

Jesper Jonsson: But I would also say that one of the things in Colorado that is very unique for the cuisine here, locally, is that it is beer food. There’s a lot of beer food going on here.

Kirk Bachmann: Absolutely. It’s kind of the undertone.

Work Life in France vs. Denmark

What about the work environment differences? You’ve got culture, you’ve got food, you’ve got beverage. What about the work life, the work style, between France, let’s say, and Denmark?

Jesper Jonsson: There are differences, but I think also you’d be surprised by the similarities. I think the culinary industry is set. There’s a same sort of people that gravitate to it, and I think most chefs get along with other chefs very well. They’re like-minded people.

Kirk Bachmann: The language of the kitchen. Sure. And a love for the craft.

Jesper Jonsson: And the expectations for the product that we serve. If you take a chef in Denmark or a chef in the south of France, they want that thing to be perfect. It can cause frictions, like everywhere else, but I think ultimately it is the plate and the customer that drives our motivation to always strive for more. I think I’ve seen tough chefs all over the world. Not tough in terms of unreasonable, but ambitious. Tough and ambitious who push themselves further.

Quite frankly, I think we would do ourselves an injustice if we do not realize that a person on their own can get to a certain level, but like-minded people that push each other will get better together than you will do trying on your own.

Work Life in Europe vs. The United States

Kirk Bachmann: That’s super poignant. Let’s carry that out a little further. The pandemic has obviously changed the mindset of our industry. I know a lot of people entering the industry today are looking for benefits. They’re looking for a nice, healthy life-work balance. Interesting work, that sort of thing. You’ve worked in both [Europe and the United States] pre-pandemic. Can you speak to the cultural differences of working as a career chef in Europe versus the United States?

You know, my father’s a Meister from Germany. He certainly has his opinions of how respected the industry is in Europe. Like you said earlier, when you finish your studies, you go on a path at 16, 17, 18, and it’s an incredibly respected profession in Europe. Always has been. I see that more and more in the United States, particularly through the great work of the wonderful Thomas Keller’s of the world, and Danny Boulud, so on and so forth. Any thoughts on the differences as a profession between the United States and Europe?

Jesper Jonsson: Yes. Here you go to school to learn the trade of cooking. We are a trade school, and we are very proud of what we do, and we try very hard to make this experience at the school a preparation for the career to come. In Europe, there are sort of two different models. In France, you go to school and you work during your weekends and your summer season – do your externship, if you want – in the summer between the two years of school.

In Denmark, you actually do a three-and-a-half year apprenticeship, where you work at a restaurant for six months of the year, and you go to school for six months of the year. That’s the way that model works.

The same, for front of the house. When I went to cooking school, we did as much front of the house as we did back of the house. In the second year, that’s when you decide you’re going to do one or the other. As a chef, having also that education in your bag is very, very valuable. It has obviously proven [valuable] in my private cheffing and when I was an executive chef in a catering company: to have a better understanding of the front and the back of the house is also very valuable.

It also means that when you’re in the front of the house, the front of the house staff has also gone to school for two years to become a waiter. They’re not doing it as a side gig to pay rent while they pursue other avenues. Here, that is your profession. That’s what you do. You get up in the morning and you go to work and you don’t plan on potentially do something else down the road.

I think, as you said, here in the United States, everybody’s a chef. You start at cooking school on Day One and everybody calls you a chef, which, obviously for you and I, is probably a little early in your career to be called a chef. But when you graduate from a cooking school in France, you are actually proud enough to call yourself a cook. Being a cook, guys, is not a diminishing in any way, shape or form. I am more proud of my cooking skills than I am of my abilities to make schedules and build menus. When I’m on the line, I want to be a beast.

We are prouder of our education, probably, there. I would also say we put a lot of effort into the education. There are very, very high expectations for you when you go through your culinary program, just like we do here. Over there, I would say, that the average level of knowledge in the kitchens of the people you work with is extremely high. Here, you often have a knowledgeable manager, and some of the people that you work with might have learned on the line and not have the foundations to build on.

Kirk Bachmann: We’re striving at Escoffier to improve that. My father always always says, “Strive to be a great cook for life, and everything else will fall into place.”

Jesper Jonsson: Absolutely.

Approach to Teaching

Kirk Bachmann: Be a great cook for life. Escoffier’s fortunate to have you. You bring a wealth of experience and insight and guidance for our students, and you’ve been with Escoffier for a long time. You’ve taught in the online modality, you’ve taught on the face-to-face modality. What’s your style? What’s your approach to teaching?

Jesper Jonsson: I try very, very hard to make my students understand what the future for them can be, if they drive it the way they could. Because everybody has the same chance when they start. I focus my teaching on understanding what you do. For example, a carrot. A carrot is a simple orange thing, grows in the ground. Not a big deal, right? But a carrot, you can eat it raw. You can peel it or not. Try to make chicken stock, but with chicken stock you’ve got to understand that the peel of a carrot is not good. Then you can go anywhere from raw to well done, make it into a soup or a puree. And that is the distinct advantage of every single product we use. Try to understand what you can do with every product. Respect it. When is it best? Focus on that.

It can be olive oil. Should you finish with olive oil or should you cook with olive oil? Well, chances are if you cook it, it’s not going to be as good as when it just came out of the bottle. Rather use it to finish. If you understand the products, then all of a sudden you demystify the cooking process. If you demystify the cooking process, you have something to build on. Learn your techniques. Don’t necessarily focus on creativity quite yet. Be strong so you can be creative in the right way later.

That’s it. I very much try to inspire my students, if they don’t have ties holding them back, to go and see the world. Absolutely. Pack your bags. Now is the time to go.

Kirk Bachmann: So well said. Some of the comments that students have provided in their reviews of their experience in classes with you in particular include: respect, knowledge, love of cooking. We can’t ask for more than that. The fact that you’re able to share that with the next generation is beautiful, and it’s really, really appreciated.

Chef Jesper’s Ultimate Dish

So Chef, we’re coming down to the end of our time. The name of the podcast is The Ultimate Dish. You are well traveled, unbelievably experienced. You’ve probably forgotten more than most know. What is the Ultimate Dish?

Jesper Jonsson: So the day I graduated from my basic two-year cooking school in France, one of the people that had really inspired to become a chef, Jean [unintelligible] was his name. He was from Andorra and he was the first two-Michelin star restaurant chef in London. He was visiting us. For my graduation, he picked me up and noon and we drove to the Moulin de Mougins with Roger Vergé and we had several dishes, but we had the infamous zucchini and tomato au gratin on a bed of sweated onion. Vergé came out and signed a menu for me wishing me good luck in my career. So that dish, the tomato and zucchini au gratin from Moulin de Mougins is the absolute superb southern dish.

Kirk Bachmann: The Ultimate Dish. Absolutely beautiful.

Jesper Jonsson: The ultimate dish.

Kirk Bachmann: Beautiful said, Chef. Chef, thank you so much. We’re so fortunate to have you at Escoffier. Like always, I’ll probably see you in a little bit on campus. Thank you for taking the time today. We love you. Thanks again for being here.

Jesper Jonsson: Thank you very, very much for having me. It’s an honor.

Kirk Bachmann: Absolutely.

And thank you for listening to The Ultimate Dish podcast, brought to you by Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. Visit Escoffier.edu/podcast where you’ll find any materials mentioned during the podcast, including notes, links, and other resources. You can also browse other episodes and subscribe.

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