Cuisine du Moi is the title of a new publication about Gavin Canardéaux (pronounced Canadew). Subtitled ‘True stories and original recipes from the world’s most authentic chef’. Canardéaux’s life and work have been recorded by Ben Canaider and I went along to hear Ben talk about Gavin at the recent Sydney Writer’s Festival.
Gavin began his illustrious career with Thai food at ‘Nylon Thai’ in Sydney and now has a signature restaurant in New York (Cuisine du Moi), another in London (Lad Gav) and amongst other roles he is the Honorary Governor of the Stationary Food Movement, consultant Chef de Chef at the United Nations and founder of the charity Children without Seafood. He sees himself as an innovator in taking chefs away from the kitchen and into the media.
At his restaurant in New York where, once through the trap door entrance, the interior boasts Louis XIV cutlery, a rainforest feature wall, airline chairs and an open toilet next to the open kitchen, diners can demand to see the fresh degustations in their tanks before purchasing them at a modest €150 for 150g. Gavin is committed to promoting the consumption of more amphibians. His London restaurant on the other hand is a charity fund staffed by disabled life prisoners from Mozambique, an idea which Gavin intends to franchise around the world. Devoted to seeing chefs drag themselves out of the food and wine section and into the main stream media Gavin’s food philosophy revolves around the 4 S’s - seasonable, sustainable, semi-fresh and seriously overpriced.
I haven’t read the book myself but those who have thought it was very clever and very funny. Ben’s creation does carry at least a semi-serious message – why should these so-called ‘celebrity chefs’ be allowed to get away with it? And why does their audience keep coming back for more? I think part of the current trend towards food that is easy and fast and has a minimal number of ingredients is in some ways a backlash against the pressure home cooks feel to produce family meals which look and taste like something out of a 5 star restaurant. Restaurant food is not home cooking – no one has the gadgets or the ovens or the staff at home for a start. And if we did we wouldn’t need to eat in restaurants. I wish I had thought to ask Ben for Gavin’s take on 4 Ingredients!