Show Me Your ID!
Name: Jean-Louis Dumonet
Hometown: Poitiers, France
Profession: Chef at the Union Club of New York
Why did you choose to pursue your career in New York?
It is a long story but, basically, the restaurant business was bad in France 21 years ago, so I decided to come to New York and chance it.
Food, Mon Amour
How would you describe French food in three words? Good (taste and health), natural, and tasty.
What is you favorite French meal? It all depends on the season.
What is your favorite French restaurant in New York? It all depends on what I want to eat.
What are your favorite ingredients to cook with? Fresh [ingredients].
Where is your favorite place to cook? At home or anywhere with friends.
When you are alone, what do you like to make yourself to eat? Vintage canned sardines in olive oil, breakfast radishes, and fresh baguette and sea salt butter from Charentes.
What is your Proust’s Madeleine*? The smell of burnt chicken feathers. My grandma whom I lived with until I was 6 had her own chicken and rabbits, and she prepped them when I was around.
What is the most important quality that makes a good chef? Honesty.
Is there a French dish that you think a particular chef has mastered? If so, what is it? Too many, but Christian Delouvrier’s roasted chicken is the best of the best.
The Chef’s Hidden Side
What is your greatest fear? Not to be able to achieve my dreams.
What is your biggest flaw? I want too much from me and sometimes from the others.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Dishonesty.
What do you most value in your friends? Generosity.
What is your life motto? Be good to people, and people will be good to you.
Who do you admire in life? My mother.
What is your greatest extravagance? I like to travel in first and business class, and hotel suites.
What is your most treasured possession? My family.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? My kids.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Ca va bien? (How are you?)
What is your present state of mind? Wondering.
How would you like to die? In good health, rather old!
* Proust’s Madeleine: when a flavor, smell, or any sense reminds you of a moment of your past.