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Rodolphe Pottier was the youngest starred chef to enter this year's Michelin Guide to France. At just 25 years old the young Frenchman based in Rouen, northern France, landed his first Michelin star just 18 months after the opening of his soberly named restaurant, Rodolphe. But don't be taken in by his age, Rodolphe Pottier might be a young chef but he has already come a long way.
The chef, who grew up in the Eure, nurtured an interest in cooking from a tender 12 years of age when he would accompany his grandparents to food markets to learn more about the wealth of produce. As an adolescent, he naturally progressed into hunting, fishing and mushroom picking.
Upon finishing high school Pottier enlisted at hotel school in Louviers, before pursuing on the job training in some of the most prestigious establishments in Paris, including the Bristol, the Ritz and the Mandarin Oriental. After climbing the ranks the young man went on to complete culinary trials in Morocco, Japan and London before returning to his native region to work in various establishments.
A couple of years ago Rodolphe Pottier immersed himself in his own project by opening his Rodolphe restaurant, along with his brother Jordan who takes care of front of house.
We caught up with the talented young chef to find out more.
You were awarded your first star just 18 months after opening. How do you explain such rapid success?
The star certainly came about just 18 months after opening, but I had already been thinking about my first establishment for some time before. For a few years, my brother and I had already been imagining what our first home would look like. The only missing pieces of the jigsaw puzzle were the place, and of course, the right time to get started. Once the pieces fell into place, this restaurant choice seemed obvious. My journey has helped a lot in the conquest of this first star. This star is the result of hard work, a constant questioning of this work and a constant search for excellence.
How did you react to the announcement of this first star?
My team and I burst into tears during the call.
Are you already aiming for a 2nd or even a 3rd star?
The gap between the first and the second star is immense. Today, the idea is to stabilise the foundations of our young restaurant. However, aged 25, it would be a shame not to aim even higher.
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Why did you want to open your own restaurant aged 24, when others are waiting until their thirties or even their forties to do it?
After learning my trade and practicing my passion in some of the most beautiful French restaurants I felt sufficiently mature to welcome customers to my own venue. The fact that I was supported by my family also contributed greatly to my decision.
How would you define your kitchen?
I like to think that my kitchen is instinctive, spontaneous and frank. My quest to develop and add value to a main ingredient, stripped of embellishment is never ending.
What food would you recommend to a customer coming to your place for the first time?
A fish dish, I am very focused on the sea.
Which culinary experience has most affected you during your life?
A food stall in the heart of Tokyo specialising in Yumi Horumon. The small kebabs (yakitori) made in this address contain just beef offal, pork and chicken. Over the course of a few days, I went there many times until I knew the whole menu (laughs). I ate things previously unknown to me, but things that will surely influence my kitchen in the long term.
Where? Rodolphe, 35 rue Percière, Rouen