Chef to six French presidents spills secrets

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Chef to six French presidents spills secrets
The chef to the presidents Bernard Vaussion hangs up his apron in Thursday but not before he reveals all about the men he cooked for. Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP

The chef who has catered for the culinary needs of six French presidents over the last 40 years has finally hung up his apron. Bernard Vaussion, who retires on Thursday, has revealed a secrets or two about the tastes of the men he cooked for, including one president who had a penchant for calf's head.


Nicolas Sarkozy abstained from cheese, Jacques Chirac liked calf's head and , while the present French President Francois Hollande is an unfussy eater partial to most things.

Bernard Vaussion has built up a comprehensive picture of the culinary tastes of six presidents during his 40 years in the Elysee Palace kitchen.

But ever discreet, the Elysee head chef who retires later on Thursday says their specific preferences are best not discussed in too much detail.

"One avoids disclosing the dishes that are particularly appreciated. Otherwise they find themselves eating the same dish everywhere they go," he said.

"This was the case for Mr Chirac with calf's head. I made it for him two or three times because he was given it everywhere," he said.

SEE ALSO: Twelve French delicacies Anglos can't stomach

Others Vaussion has catered for during his four decades at the French president's official residence include former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, US President George W. Bush, the late Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and Britain's Queen Elizabeth.

Vaussion, who has just turned 60, started as an assistant chef in 1974 following a three-year stint as a sous-chef at the British Embassy in Paris.

"I remember the apprehension of cooking for world leaders and our head of state," he said in an interview at his office at the Elysee.

"There is always a lot of pressure.... In a restaurant, if there is an error, the customer doesn't come back. Here it is me who would be asked to leave," he added.

Asked about changes over the years, Vaussion highlighted the effects of the current climate of economic austerity.

"We buy differently. Some luxury products have disappeared like truffles (and) crayfish," he said.

Vaussion will be succeeded as the head of the round-the-clock 20-strong Elysee team by his deputy, Guillaume Gomez, 35.

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