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French chef brings 'gastronomic culture' to Kremlin

AFP · 1 Aug 2011, 09:44

Published: 01 Aug 2011 10:40 GMT+02:00
Updated: 01 Aug 2011 09:44 GMT+02:00

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The French chef who cooks for President Dmitry Medvedev in the Kremlin said Friday that he "does not have the right to make a mistake," but stayed tight-lipped on the Russian leader's favourite dish.

"It's a lot of stress and a huge personal commitment. You have to be available 24 hours and constantly keep an eye on things," Jerome Rigaud told AFP as the chefs who cook for world leaders held a regular summit in Moscow.

Rigaud has cooked at the Kremlin for three years after working at several Moscow restaurants, but was reluctant to give details on how he got the job.

"I was in the right place at the right time," he said.

He is in charge of formal dinners and receptions and said he has brought the Gallic "gastronomic culture of food tasting" to the Kremlin, which used to dish up all the food on tables before diners sat down to eat, a Russian custom.

"Before we had tables a la russe, where all the food was placed on the table in enormous quantities, and the waiters came along with plates," he said.

"Now everything is served on individual plates."

Rigaud said he often sees Medvedev but has never had a personal conversation.

"I have met him numerous times, but I haven't had the chance to talk to him," he said, declining to name the president's favourite dish.

The Kremlin chef mingled with the chefs of other world leaders at a meeting of the Club des Chefs des Chefs, or the Club of the Chefs of the Leaders, which was founded in the 1970s and holds an annual reunion.

Also in Moscow was Cristeta Comerford, the chef at the White House, who said she had more personal contact with her boss, President Barack Obama.

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"If he likes a dish or anything like that he would be like: wow, it's a great dish, let's do that one again," she told AFP, describing Obama as "very open to food, very adventurous".

Chef Mark Flanagan, who cooks for the British Royal Family at Buckingham Palace and prepared dishes for the recent wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, said that Queen Elizabeth II prefers local ingredients.

"She's a fan of local and seasonal food. It changes throughout the year. We are very fortunate in the UK because we have fantastic products -- really!"

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