In this episode of Barging through France, host Richard Goodwin sails his boat, the Regina, about 18 kilometres north of Lyon to a small village called Les Collonges; where Paul Bocuse was born and where he now has his most famous restaurant.
This from Richard Goodwin:
Paul Bocuse, a legend among French chefs, agreed to show me around his restaurant at L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges. He started off with his wall honouring many international chefs who have made history in the culinary world.
Paul explains that Lyon is the larder of France and he gives the geographical details of the delights of the region. A little way down the river, Paul shows me his passion which he has housed in an old abbey. He has over the years amassed a large collection of mechanical organs; he also uses the hall for large dinners.
Paul shows us how to cook ham in the traditional method of the region. He cooks the ham in hay and a large cauldron. Paul says that the secret of Lyon’s culinary fame comes entirely from the good produce that surrounds the city. He tells of the food in his father and grandfather’s time and then takes me to his garden where he grows the vegetables for his restaurant. He says that a lettuce you have picked in the morning tastes completely different from anything you buy in the market.
We take a tour of Paul’s kitchen which is an eye opener. Everything is spotless. We film the choreography that takes place when a kitchen caters for 148 diners with 19 sous chefs. How truffles are used to stuff a chicken and what it feels like to eat a $50 bowl. We see the tricks he uses to get publicity and slow down the diners all arriving at once in the restaurant. He lets me eat a meal in the kitchen which is one of the most wonderful things that I have done in my life.
The cuisine of Paul Bocuse is traditional French of the very highest standard. Discipline in the kitchen and restaurant is all important, he tells me. Nothing is left in the fridge overnight, everything is reordered everyday. There are no good cooks, he says, just good work. A most remarkable man.