Meet Marc Chalopin
THE FIRST DUCASSE INSTITUTE TO HAVE OPEN ITS DOORS ABROAD, ENDERUN COLLEGES HAS BEEN TEACHING FRENCH CULINARY TECHNIQUES IN THE PHILLIPPINES SINCE 2012. TRAINED BY THE GREATEST, FRENCH CHEF MARC CHALOPIN IS ITS EXECUTIVE CHEF. PORTRAIT OF A CHEF WHO TRULY FOUND HIS CALLING WHEN HE DISCOVERED TEACHING.
- WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR JOURNEY THUS FAR?
- I started the Learning process when I was 16. After obtaining my vocational qualifications (NVQ/ French CAP) in 1983, I decided to move to Paris. I left without really knowing what I was going to do or where I was going to sleep, but I was Lucky enough to get a job at the Pavillon Dauphine just a few hours after arriving. I worked at the Tour d'Argent for a short while, then I stayed at Maxim's for over a year. Truffles that where cooked by five kilos perfumed the lower ground floor kitchen! I then joined the Ritz team before working at Drouant. This is where I reached a turning point: I met Louis Grondard who became my mentor. After four years by his side, I started at La Tour Eiffel with Alain Reix, then joined Joël Robuchon with whom I worked for two years. When he sold the restaurant, I decided to stay with Alain Ducasse. A friend who worked at the Cordon Bleu in Tokyo let me know the Institute was looking for Chefs in Australia. I sent my CV and was contacted by the Ecole de Paris. The change was tremendous: from 70 hours per week I went on to work 40 hours; I no longer led teams but I was a professor having to deal with students. It was a huge eye-opener! I was offered to moveto Korea where I discovered a completely different state of mind. Everything is hierarchical, very respectful. We work a lot but much more efficiently, there is an authentic work culture. This is where I met the woman who would later become my wife. After a brief stop back in France, Alain Ducasse offered me a position in Asia as he was opening a school in the Philippines.
- HOW HAVE YOUR EXPERIENCES ABROAD ALTERED YOUR APPROACH TO COOKING AND MANAGEMENT?
- Teaching is more than a job, it is a passion. Passing it down is primordial. In my opinion, social media and Instagram in particular are a goldmine as I am always looking for new innovations.
- WHY IS PASSING DOWN YOUR KNOWLEDGE ESSENTIAL TO YOU? HOW DO YOU TEACH FRENCH EXCELLENCE?
- We do in fact pass down French excellence but not solely: we also teach typically local recipes to which we apply French techniques. The educational project is based on team work. Studeetns always work in pairs, and therefore obtain an identical grade. Twosome work was born from an assessment: once students finish trainings, they have a hard time integrating teams. All teaching modules are green lighted with the Paris teams. Every day, innovations are discovered so it is important for us to always share with one another and not keep to ourselves. Lately, I discovered a chicken cooking technique in green bamboo. The chicken was cut in pièces and cooked with coconut milk and vegetables. Though aat the centre of the flames, the bamboo did not burn. This gave me the idea to use this technique to make bread...And share it!
- WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY AT THE ENDERUN COLLEGES LOOK LIKE? WHAT IS YOUR ROLE WITHIN THE ESTABLISHMENT?
- There are five kitchens, a baking laboratory, a practical application restaurant... The planning is set over three months which allows us to better handle orders. My role is to organize classes in relation with Paris and supervise them, insuring the following day's preparation six days a week. I adapt recipes to honour local products. We offer two types of classes: three-hour long démonstrations and six-hour long workshops with Chefs. I spend the rest of my day looking for the latest innovations and techniques.
- WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE INGREDIENTS? WHY?
- In the Philippines, we are Lucky enough to be able to work with mangos, pineapples, or even coconuts of an exceptional quality. This is why we offers many recipes with local fruits.
- HOW DO YOU REVISIT TRADITIONAL RECIPES?
- Do we want to respect the original recipes? Offer a fusion cooking? Let the imagination run free? In my opinion, everything is allowed. For instance, we reinterpreted the Sisig. This traditional Filipino dish is a hog's head cooked in a bouillon. Finely minced, it is mixed with onions and pig's liver. We altered it with foie gras, playing on textures adding crunchy with knuckles, and imagined a different presentation, opting for a vacuum cooking that allows for a perfect circle.
- WHAT ARE YOUR INDISPENSABLE ELLE&VIRE PROFESSIONNEL PRODUCTS? WHY?
- I work with different creams but the Elle & Vire Professionnel Excellence Whipping Cream is one of the only ones to use pure milk. I enjoy its stability and regularity. I also use the dry butter for croissants.
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