During summer we love to go on a gourmet tour through France and Italy, which means we stop every second day at a two or three Michelin stars restaurant. It has become a tradition and it is great to be back in our favorite locations. This time, we took another route and visited for the first time Anne-Sophie Pic in Valence. This has been the best culinary experience we have had so far.
Personally speaking, you can feel that a woman is behind the creations. The dishes are light and fresh. Even after the 10-course «voyage» I didn’t feel stuffed as I usually do. You can taste that Anne-Sophie Pic takes a lot of devotion to find the best fresh ingredients. Her menu changes accordingly to the market. In fact, Anne-Sophie Pic is always moving. She is perpetually seeking new, complex flavour associations.
By finding non-consensual flavours such as the bitter, the acidic, the salty, the roasted, and the smoked and by taming them, she incorporates often overlooked produce such as beetroot, turnip or cabbage. In order to explore all of their possible uses in the kitchen, she approaches the ingredients in their totality, rather than cinnamon sticks, she prefers the cinnamon leaf.
The amazing anti-alcoholic accompaniment – the most extraordinary experience: pine needle tea (photo middle below).
The best? Forget the traditional wine pairing. At Anne-Sophie Pic you can order an anti-alcoholic accompaniment, which consists of different cocktails that are prepared at the table (the show is already worth it) and sophisticated teas.
The 51-year old French chef inherited her talent from her family. 3 generations, 3 stars, her father Jacques gained the restaurant «Maison Pic» three Michelin stars in 1973 and her grandfather André in 1934. Even that she spent a lot of time in the kitchen watching her father preparing his creations, she initially decided not to follow in their footsteps, and instead travelled overseas to train in management. In 1992, at the age of 23, she realised her place was by her father’s side so she could learn how to cook and develop the brand that was also her surname.
Unfortunately, her father died only three months later, and she moved to working the front of the house. In 1995, the restaurant lost its third Michelin star, for which she felt she had lost «her father’s star», and spurred her to return to the kitchen. In 1997, Pic took control of the restaurant. Even that she had no formal training in cooking – this is what I call real talent – she regained Maison Pic’s three Michelin stars in 2007.
An explosion of taste and color: amuse-bouche by Anne-Sophie Pic.
She is the fourth female chef to win three Michelin stars, and was awarded the Best Female Chef by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2011. In the same year, she was named a Chevalier (Knight) of the French Legion of Honour. Isn’t it bizarre that women are supposed to be in the kitchen but the best chefs are all men?! I think, gentlemen, you should reconsider your dedications at home!
The divine white millefeuille served with milk foam is Anne-Sophie’s signature dessert dish. Click here for the recipe.
Great news is that we have also an Anne-Sophie Pic restaurant in Switzerland, located in Lausanne at the Beau-Rivage Palace. It was awarded two Michelin stars in 2009. There is more, the dedicated brunette has built a complete gourmand empire. Along with her husband David Sinapian, she establishes the PIC Group along with her SCOOK culinary school in Valence (2008), the ÉPICerie Fine in Valence (2010), la Dame de Pic in Paris (1 star), the Daily Pic (the gourmet verrines of Anne-Sophie Pic – 2014 and 2018), the restaurant André (2016) and la Dame de Pic London (1 star – 2017).
Visiting the kitchen after our excellent dinner experience.
Nevertheless, to really get her essence, you should visit her in her home in Valence. During the dinner, she will pass by to greet you and in the end I was even able to visit the impressive kitchen.
We stayed at her 5-star hotel Maison Pic in Valence. The restaurant is located within the property. The rooms are beautiful, you have an outdoor pool and the breakfast the next day is to die for. I have never in my life had such an amazing chocolate croissant.
One thing is for sure, we will be back soon!
Breakfast at Anne-Sophie Pic
Photos: © Sandra Bauknecht
DISCLOSURE: This post is NOT sponsored.