Meet Sébastien Cassagnol

Cooking Chef
Beirut, Bora-Bora, Cyprus, Bali, Oman, Amman...
His many expériences abroad shaped french chef Sébastien Cassagbol's culinary identity.
He is now the Executive Chef of La Mamounia, Marrakesk (Morocco). He offers tasteful cookingwhich relies on choosing naturality and supplies from small local producers.
Interview.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR CAREER THUS FAR?
As a child, I spent a lot of time in my grand-parents’ kitchen. I knew as early as 6 years old that I would become a cook! I graduated from my vocational diploma and NVQ (BEP and CAP in France) as an independent candidate, then my hospitality diploma and HND (BTH and BTS in France) at Bourges’ hospitality school. After my military service, I became the personal cook to a Secretary of State. Then, I decided to have an experience abroad. After two years at the Beirut Vendôme (Lebanon), I started working at Market (Paris, France) as Executive Sous-Chef. I learned a lot working with Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. In 2006, I moved again when I got an Executive Sous-Chef offer at the St Régis Bora Bora (French Polynesia). From 2007 to 2010, I was Executive Chef in two establishments of the Thanos group in Cyprus. After two years in Bali and four in Muscat (Oman), I dropped my suitcases in Jordan. The Rotana Amman is my first experience working of a hotel of such calibre with its 412 rooms, five restaurants and a squad of 75 cooks. The challenge is fascinating!
HOW HAVE THESE EXPERIENCES ABROAD INFLUENCED YOUR COOKING? HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE IT NOW?
Abroad, there is a genuine culture of French gastronomy. As expatriated Chefs, we become its ambassadors and contribute in carrying it on. After discovering new products in New Zealand and Australia, I dove into the wealth that is Asian gastronomy. In Beirut, I became enthralled with Mediterranean gastronomy. I created a falafel with an edamame base or a labneh with wasabi. I advocate for a thought-out fusion cooking which takes total advantage of local products and the country’s cooking techniques.
WHAT ARE THE CURRENT GASTRONOMY TRENDS IN JORDAN?
The trend is to return to the product itself. I work with simple quality products. Consumers are weary of sterilised products, they want authenticity. This quest for taste is very much present in Jordan. I get my supplies from local farms and a network of enthusiast who launched into the production of ancient vegetables.
WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION?
The discovery of world kitchens is an endless source of inspiration! I share a lot with my colleagues such as Chefs Julien Royer (Odette, Singapore) or Daniel Baratier (Les Déserteurs, Paris, France).
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE INGREDIENTS TO WORK WITH?
I use a lot of local ingredients. In Jordan, I have trouble finding the same products regularly. It is necessary to have legal authorisations for foie gras even hallal. Fish is very expensive which is normal due to the country’s geographical location. However, fruits and vegetables are delicious and lamb and beef meats are excellent. I used Elle & Vire Professionnel® products since I began my career. I cannot imagine a good pastry without the Extra Dry Butter in my ingredients. There is nothing like the Gourmet Butter in a vegetable stir fry to make it whole and tasty! I also use the Excellence Cooking Cream a lot. It is an exceptional product and a global reference.
WHAT PLACE DOES NATURALITY HAVE IN YOUR IDEA OF COOKING?
In my opinion, naturality is synonym to taste and quality. I always prefer explaining to a client that I cannot serve him the menu’s carrot soup because I could not find a supply of quality carrots rather than finding a substitute that would not meet my standards. This quest for naturality can only become generalised because
tomorrow’s cooking will be more plant-based than it currently is. We found alternatives to meat. We will end up eating insects as they do in Asia even if that means going through a psychological acceptance process. Naturality is the future of cooking!

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