People 2 minutes 21 February 2019

5 Questions With Leo Troisgros On Growing Up With A Michelin-Starred Legacy

The younger son of celebrated chef Michel Troisgros of three-starred Le Bois sans Feuilles in France is following in his father’s footsteps.

5Qs France Troisgros

Up-and-coming chef Leo Troisgros may just be 26 years old, but his resume of cooking stages and stints lists big names from Michelin-starred restaurant across Europe. After graduating from the Paul Bocuse Institute, he worked at Guy Savoy and La Grenouillère, both in France, Lorenz Adlon Esszimmer in Germany and Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville in Switzerland.

The toothsome French chef, who has been cooking for six years, is also turning heads thanks to his famous last name. His great-grandfather, Jean-Baptiste Troisgros started La Maison Troisgros in 1930, which was revered as a pioneer in the nouvelle cuisine craze in the 1960s.
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Today, the younger Troisgros (back, left) is part of a gastronomy dynasty that has run the three-starred haute French restaurant Le Bois sans Feuilles for 50 years, spanning four generations. Today, the family continues to run the business closely. His father, Michel (front, left) , oversees the restaurant, while Leo’s brother, Cesar is the head chef.

Six months ago, Leo and his partner, Lisa Roche joined Le Bois sans Feuilles, after spending 10 months in Tokyo, where they worked in his family’s two-starred restaurant, Cuisine[s] Michel Troisgros. During his Japanese sojourn, he fell in love with the country’s culture, which he hopes to transmit into his nascent culinary style. 
The duo also hope to enrich their knowledge of wine, service and cooking during their travels.

“We wish to travel again so we can open our minds and learn from other teams,” he says. “Family is our strength and we all have something to contribute, thanks to our personalities and experiences.”

Diners in Hong Kong can get a taste of Leo’s culinary vision as he teams up with his father for an exclusive dinner menu at the one-Michelin-starred French restaurant EPURE from 21 to 23 February. Diners can expect signature dishes such as l’ange qui passe au caviar and frisella d’écrevisses.
1. How did your interest in cooking start?

When I was young, I spent a lot of time mostly in the kitchen of Maison Troisgros. There was so much to see, touch, taste and smell. At home, I baked a lot by myself, so my passion for cooking started becoming obvious.

2. How do you feel being born into a family with such a rich culinary history?

My favourite childhood memories of food include two dishes in the family’s restaurant that have particularly touched me. One is Le Chinois de Tomates, an amuse-bouche that is a sweet and sour marinated cherry tomato fried in a donut pastry and then rolled in caramel. The other dish is Saumon à L’oseille (salmon with sorrel), which I ate many times for lunch after school. I regularly invited friends to join us at the table and, even today, some of them still talk about it. At home, I particularly like my mother’s eggplant beignet with tomato.

I am proud of our culinary past that I grew up with and am working with. It is a day-to-day job with both the team and my family. We always try to push the family’s restaurant forward without looking too much at the past.
In 2017, the Troisgros family re-located their restaurant from Roanne town to a 19th century manor estate in the Ouches countryside. (Photo: Le Bois sans Feuilles)
In 2017, the Troisgros family re-located their restaurant from Roanne town to a 19th century manor estate in the Ouches countryside. (Photo: Le Bois sans Feuilles)

3. What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt about cooking from your father?

Do not confuse simplicity with ease. Achieving simplicity means always questioning our work. This is a necessary step as we remove superficial elements and keep only the essentials, such as the taste. The strength of our cooking lies in this ethos.

I like the culinary identity and spirit of Troisgros. However, I have learnt new influences thanks to my travels, especially from Japanese cuisine. Now, I still need to figure out how to transmit this into my cuisine.

4. As a millennial chef, what is your approach to social media? 

I don’t often use social media. It has changed the perception of cooking. Inevitably, we are inspired by dishes that we see on the platform. Trends have spread faster and creativity suffers.
As we experience cooking through images, it has become aesthetical and taste is no longer a priority. We have to approach cooking with parsimony and intelligence.

5. As a young chef, what is the biggest challenge that you face? 

At Troisgros, we work with local producers. For instance, the cattle breed from our region which are raised in the best conditions. Today, we have to face large companies which are diminishing the presence of local producers and generalising the different food sectors.

When we visit farmers’ market every day, we see fewer independent producers, who have a genuine love for the ingredients. In my opinion, it is the duty of chefs to preserve this richness.


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