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Live from the Elysée Palace with Chef Guillaume Gomez

In celebration of his new book, « A la Table des Présidents » (At the Presidents’ Table), the chef of the Elysée Palace is giving readers an inside look at the meals served to the some of the most powerful people in the world.

Live from the Elysée Palace with Chef Guillaume Gomez

Is « A la Table des Présidents » meant for dreaming or cooking?

It’s not a poetry collection, but a compendium of cooking savoir-faire! The work is halfway between a history book and a political book, with a focus on « gastro-diplomacy », the power of the taste buds, and sixty historical recipes. The book is designed so readers can enjoy reproducing famous dishes at home, including the entrée served to the Queen of England by François Hollande, the dish prepared for John Kennedy by General de Gaulle, and the dessert offered to Barack Obama by Nicolas Sarkozy.

Are you proud to have prefaces written by Nicolas Sarkozy, François Hollande, and Emmanuel Macron?

It’d be more accurate to call it an honour and a privilege. I had asked each of the presidents whom I cooked for to write a testimony about what the Elysée kitchen represents and gastronomy in general from a diplomatic point of view. They might have stuck with anecdotes, but I was moved to see that each person conveyed a real message that paid tribute to the cuisine served at the presidential palace—beyond my personal role as the chef. This makes the book, which is published with Cherche Midi, even more valuable and unique.

What do you do with these historical meals?

Had I given a lot away and sold the others for a few thousand euros, it wouldn’t have changed my life much. So, I decided to donate my entire collection to the Fond Gourmand (Gourmet Fund) at the National Library of France in Dijon so the public could access them via the « Fond Gallica ».

What is your favourite memory about cooking?

I’ve made so many memories at the palace in the past 23 years, including when President Jacques Chirac presented me with the medal for the Best Craftsperson in France, when I was inducted into the National Order of Merit, when I met the Queen of England at Buckingham Palace with the Club des Chefs des Chefs, and when I prepared the meal for the COP21. Along with my colleagues, we served 192 heads of state and government at the same time and during a single service. That had never been attempted before!

How is Christmas celebrated at the Elysée?

For the past three years, we have travelled to war zones with President Emmanuel Macron to provide comfort and a festive meal to our troops on Christmas Day. It’s an important time to share and treat our soldiers to quality foods. We prepare a simple meal that includes a pâté en croute, chicken with mushrooms and a gratin dauphinois, a regional cheese plate, and a chocolate cake with mandarins, but it’s freshly prepared and a big change from their normal combat rations.

Do you have a message for chefs going through a difficult time right now?

Of course, I do! I speak with a number of my friends who are chefs and restaurant owners. We are going through a time that no one could have dreamed of. We need to support these passionate businesspeople in the same way they supported hospital staff and charities during the first lockdown. Today, they need our help!

Our cuisine plays a key part in gastro-diplomacy

Guillaume Gomez

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