posted on March 14, 2011 23:03
A feeling of harmony springs from the landscape and unites with a pure and timeless architecture and cuisine. Working on the top of a hill in a remote slice of the French countryside, Michel Bras (pronounced Brahs) forages little-known herbs and vegetables and gently coaxes the best out of them, creating beautiful, organic plates such as his signature dish of Gargouillou containing more than 50 varieties of vegetable, herbs and flowers. Creators of constantly evolving emotion, Michel and Sébastien reflect their symbiosis with nature in their compositions, fragments of a life shared. Alongside the “classics” like vegetable ragout and chocolate coulant come innovative compositions such as Cèbe onion baked with black sugar and potato wafer… and also to discover, the selection of rare wines.
Bras has never worked in anyone else's kitchen (aside from his mother's) and this is reflected in his simple, distinctive cooking. Michel Bras was born in Gabriac, in Aveyron, France, in 1946. He attended grammar school in Espalion, a stone’s throw from the family hotel and restaurant “Lou Mazuc”, in Laguiole. He was fascinated by both Aubrac and cuisine. Right out of school, his mother introduced him to local culinary traditions, and their collaboration continues.
It was difficult to leave Laguiole, so Michel did receive not external training, enter the ranks, or make the traditional Tour de France. Instead, Michel Bras taught himself, following his intuition. He studied culinary literature with a passion, taking inspiration from such great thinkers as Saint-Augstin, Lamartine, Saint-Exupéry, Ernest Renan and Francis Ponge, amongst others. He walked the trails, gathered, nibbled, pondered and mediated, and finally found his own culinary path.
The Restaurant was built over 15 years ago, the restaurant is still cutting edge architecture resembling a crystal stuck into the Laguiole hillside. However, the Hotel and Restaurant is miles from anywhere, and yet it is regularly full to overflowing. One would swear that this extraordinary chef had studied in Japan from his style of presentation on the plate and his spare artistry in designing his dishes. However, it is only in the last few years that he visited that country for the first time. Those who believe in re-incarnation claim he must have lived previous lives in Japan. Instead, he claims his influence is entirely from his mother's cooking, his abiding love of the wild flora that braves this harsh environment and his passion for the region and town of his birth, Aubrac and Laguiole respectively.
Bras meals bear little similarity to those hearty affairs his mother still serves her family around the huge polished slab of gray granite that serves as a table in the centre of the kitchen of Michel Bras' ultra-modern establishment. (Bras ambience is very much a family affair. His mother cooks lunch for the family still. Her husband arrives from town, Michel Bras and his charming wife Ginette materialize, their son Sébastien who is most ably in charge of the pastry and bakery division of the enterprise.
Address: Route de l'Aubrac, 12210 Laguiole, France
Telephone: +33 (0)5 65 51 18 20
Web Site: www.bras.fr
Bras. Laguiole. Aubrac. France - 2002, éditions du Rouergue.
Les carnets de Michel Bras : dessert - 2005, éditions du Rouergue.
Les carnets de Michel Bras : petits festins - 1995, éditions du Rouergue.
Dinner with a Deity: Master Chef Michel Bras - foodandwine.com
GourmetVoyageurs.com: Michel Bras Laguiole, South Western France