Henri Dudognon, cook in the footsteps of his father Gilles, Michelin starred

Child of the ball, the expression has nothing to do with any gift with the round ball. In this case, it turns out that our man is also a gifted footballer, a midfielder who has played in the regional division.
Not only is Henri a child of the ball because today he is a talented cook, like his father, but he also has the status of “son of” since said father is none other than Gilles Dudognon, who since more than thirty years now carries high the colors of the regional gastronomy.

In short, a costume that is not always the easiest to put on: considered by some to be a “daddy’s boy”, he must show character to overcome the illegitimacy that we would like to attribute to him; without giving in to impostor syndrome and self-inflicted pressure to live up to expectations.

But obviously, at the age of 29, Henri knew how to avoid these traps set for him by fate and seems rather well in his sneakers, having found his place in a beautiful family business, dynamic and recognized.

A beautiful pedigree

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In terms of professional legitimacy, no doubt, just look at the boy’s pedigree to understand.

So it’s true, the world of cooking and catering, he has been immersed in it since his earliest childhood. “As a kid, I spent a lot of time watching my father work and observing the activity of the brigade. I fed on these gestures, these noises, these smells, and this effervescence that reigns in the kitchen”, recognizes Henri.

When many went to Paris to learn the trade, Henri had his first professional experience on the heights of Cannes, at La Bastide Saint-Antoine, a very beautiful house run by a renowned Limousin chef, Jacques Chibois.

Then, in 2013, it is with another national monument that Henri will rub shoulders: a certain Michel Guérard and his three Michelin stars, the pope of new cuisine based in Eugénie-les-Bains (Landes).

“I learned a lot: the 16-hour days, but also the rigor, the requirement and the sense of organization, essential qualities to succeed at the highest level”, explains this accomplished athlete who, for lack of time, swapped his cleats for boxing gloves.

Curiosity at heart

No question of stopping on such a good path, Henri joined Pierre Gagnaire’s London restaurant in 2015. A new approach to the profession. “Where my two previous mentors evolved on a classical repertoire, Gagnaire shines in a much more instinctive register, where emotion and audacity are at the heart of culinary creation”, recognizes this enlightened young chef who owns also, an artistic sensibility and a real outlook on the world.

From this rich and eclectic career, Henri took advantage of it to perfect his techniques, his knowledge of the product, his culture of the trade. “Anyway, we learn every day and I still continue to discover today and amaze myself”, he underlines with the humility and wisdom of the greats.
“He understood very well that without value and without excellence, in the work as in the product, one cannot succeed in this profession”, attests Gilles, proud of the path taken and of the beautiful professional maturity of his son.

His return to La Chapelle Saint-Martin is based on an assumed choice and a real attachment to the region. “Nothing beats the simple pleasure of a walk in the forest, surrounded by nature, with my dogs. And then, it’s here, in Limoges, that my roots are and where my family, my friends live,” he says.

A cook in his time

These values, this taste for simple things, are found in its ecological approach to the profession and a concern for well-being at work.

“Yes, today, we must absolutely include our activities in a responsible approach by favoring short circuits, the creation of your vegetable garden or the production of your compost. Likewise, the era of abundance is over and we must fight against waste. As for the staff, we do not work alone and it is essential to create an atmosphere of well-being and respect for our teams”, adds a chef who is fully aware of the environmental and social issues of his time.

In the kitchen, Henri admits a weakness for cooking, this direct, almost carnal relationship with the product: touching it, cutting it, trimming it, smelling it to cook and cook it, demanding the best of its taste potential.

“It’s a job that I like because you’re there, behind the stove, in the front row to let your senses pick up smells, noises or colors. A position where we are on permanent alert to cook a Rack of Veal from Limousin with precision, which is one of the great classics on our menu”, explains the man who does not cheat and lives his cooking with his guts and with passion.

In short, you will have understood that Henri is a talented cook but he is also one of those people that we are happy to have met, charmed by his simplicity, his kindness and his thirst for knowledge. In two words, a good guy.

Wine

Tutti Fruti. If it has nothing to do with the title of Little Richard, founder of the rock movement, this Tutti Frutti is nonetheless very pleasant and refreshing. It was Nicolas Marchand, from the Vinoble boutique in Limoges, who gave us this organic red wine from Château de La Liquière (near Béziers, in Hérault), the reference in terms of Faugères.
If it is presented in Vin de France, it is nonetheless endowed with beautiful qualities.
A blend of Grenache, Syrah and Carignan, raised on stony and demanding soil, it has a beautiful robe with ruby ​​highlights.

The nose is frank, does not look for noon to two o’clock to offer you these scents of red fruits embellished with spicy notes.

In the mouth, same topo, a lot of greediness, freshness and balance.
A friendly wine for less than 9 euros (yes!) that you can bring to your next picnic or to accompany a seasonal barbecue.

The product

Camembert with white wine. It was at the Maison du Fromage, an institution in the heart of Limoges which now belongs to the Dudugnon galaxy, that we tasted this specialty made by the master of the place, Jean-Marie Dufour. At the start, there is of course a raw milk camembert directly from Normandy. The cheese is then left to macerate in white wine before being rolled in homemade breadcrumbs. An original recipe where each ingredient is clearly identified. The soft paste of the cheese combines perfectly with the breadcrumbs which bring a little crispiness, but which also rounds and softens the character of the perfectly matured cheese.

In the end, a nice specialty to eat cold or melted, as an aperitif or at the end of a meal. The main thing is to share it with friends.

Fabrice Varieras

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