MEET YANN TANNEAU
Rock Star looks and a reputation for speaking his mind, that's the short story behind Yann Tanneau, the new Chef at La Folie Douce. But as so often, behind an explosive character hides a sensitive man, driven by a love for using great (local) produce to create great cuisine. "If you dare to be different, you have to do it well. My advantage is that I'm passionate about everything I do."
Already recognised with a Gault & Millau gold award, Yann Tanneu has made his mark by bringing originlity and fun to the all-too-serious world of great cuisine, always ready to seek out new ideas, try something different. "At 15-16 years old, I could have ended up doing any old rubbish job", he explains, "and to this day I have no idea why he (the man who first employed him as an apprentice chef) believed in me". Roughly translated, this first encounter of his young life gave him the direction that stopped him going off the rails. "Big stroke of luck for me, Patrice Brejeon had been voted Meilleur Ouvrier de France, Patisserie (top French patisserie chef). Nowadays, one of my big ambitions is to become MOF ". Despite his rough childhood and a "difficult" personality, Yann Tanneau nonetheless realised that Brejeon, the first person to show faith in him, could help him finally turn a corner in his life. "He offered me a job and somewhere to live, despite not really knowing me, which shows that sometimes it pays to take a punt!... ".
Once qualified, it was time to get out and see the world. "15 years ago in England, I was working with 'rock-and-roll' chefs, covered in tattoos". Although he'll tell you that his style of cuisine nowadays doesn't draw much from his travels (except his Japanese-influenced fish dishes), it was living and working abroad that helped him learn how to develop good working relations with others : "when you're working with Mexican or Chinese immigrants, then you see them in the street with a gun in their pocket, you begin to understand the reality of things". Gradually creating his unique approach to food, he took his skills all the way to the red-hot kitchens of the Opera Garnier. "I was the only person allowed to park right in front, on my big motorbike". That's another chapter of his story that started with a chance meeting. "I met the mastermind of the Opera Garnier restaurant at a party and we hit it off straight away". With her Gothic look and black lipstick, Odile Decq succeeded in persuading the talented young chef to join the project. Not that it needed much. Architecture, art and music being the other big loves of Tanneau's life. "I was very close to one of the star dancers at Opera Garnier. Basically, we've got lots in common, we're all a bit "out there", artists, performers and chefs, all alike".
Mr Guillot (2 Michelin stars), Nicolas Adam (1 star), Alain Senderens (3 stars), Jérôme Banctel (2 stars), followed by Bernard Le Prince (MOF) and Alain Ducasse, they've all had the wanderer on their books and in their kitchens. His plain-speaking and incisive choice of words have almost certainly played their part in his "career path". But at 38, haute cuisine's eternal nomad finds himself starting to have longer term projects in mind, to achieve the next phase of his evolution through continuity. The man who's always defiantly defended his right to freedom and no permanent attachment. "Maturity changes us all in the end". Meeting Luc Reversde and Jean-Baptiste Gravier changed his perspectives. "I found these people, even more out-there than me, and very, very persuasive". So it was no surprise that Yann Tanneau brought his talent, tattoos and raucous personality to La Folie Douce. "People tell me I've got very feminine cooking style, that appeals to women". That's down to his originality and attention to detail, his subtle, perfect mix of Folie and Douceur. It's as though Tanneau was pre-destined to be a chef, pre-destined to great things in the beautiful kitchens of La Folie Douce. "Remember though : a lion will never grow into a kitten". Once a rocker, always a rocker...