7 Questions with Chef Gui Alinat
7 Questions is a series of interviews with the culinary movers and shakers you want or ought to know better.
Most folks have seen Chef Gui Alinat whether they are aware of it or not. In the commercial for eDiets.com there is a chef that looks too pretty to be a real chef. Clearly he is a model or actor. Nope, that’s Chef Gui.
Gui Alinat is an ACF Certified Executive Chef, food writer and a culinary instructor at the Art Institute of Tampa and the Jacobson Culinary Arts Academy in Tarpon Springs. He also published his first book, The Chef’s Répertoire, in January 2010. Gui regularly contributes to the St Petersburg Times food section and Creative Loafing’s blog: Daily Loaf.
The Chef’s Répertoire has earned Gui a great deal of notoriety and accolades. Here’s what the experts are saying about it:
“In a flash, you are reminded of a recipe or technique that you might need to reference. This book will be attached to my kitchen counter!”
Chef Ariane Daguin of D’Artagnan
Chef Gui’s répertoire is a short version of many international recipes which will delight professionals and cooks with basic culinary knowledge.”
Chef Marie-Annick Courtier, author of The Saint-Tropez Diet
“Alinat’s répertoire lists the modern classic recipes chefs must have at their fingertips. This book should be on the desk of every high-end restaurant chef.”
Chef Hugh J. McEvoy, President, Chicago Research Chefs
Chef Gui was kind enough to take time to answer 7 Questions:
1. How old were you when you first started to cook?
Gui: Well, coming from the south of France, you never really “start” cooking. Everything revolves around food, and making it. So of course I have memories of a culture almost essentially made of long lunches at the table, family dinners, wild mushroom foraging, and pantagruelian feasts revolving around wild boar, hare and partridge. I remember learning the obscure technique of “flambadou” grilling, making grand aioli Provencal, and pitting apricot pits (yes, there is a slightly bitter, velvety, eatable nut inside the pit of an apricot) for my grandma’s jam. But I started cooking professionally when I was 16 years old, when I went to chef school in Marseilles, France.
2. When did you decide that you wanted to make food your career?
Gui: I actually started chef school upon recommendation from my mother, and because I didn’t know what else to do at 16 years old. All I knew was that I wanted a school as far away as possible of my hometown. Chef school was it. It’s only after the first year there that I really started to enjoy this. I stayed 6 years (chef school + 2 years of restaurant management) and really enjoyed it.
3. Which chefs have influenced you the most?
Gui: Many. Cooking professionally is a journey. You never stop learning and looking around for what others are doing. Early on, I was impressed by the local chefs whom I worked under: chefs Gerald Passedat (now a 3 Michelin star in Marseilles), René Alloin, Michel Siepen of Le Revestel, Jean-Claude Rouyer. At the time, back in the 80s, I was influenced by the Nouvelle Cuisine chefs, especially those from the south of France like Roger Vergé and Alain Ducasse. More recently, the chefs I really admire are Michel Bras, Grant Achatz, Nobu, Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud and Pierre Gagnaire. And of course chef Rick Tramonto of TRU who’s not only a fantastic chef but a genuinely nice person.
4. If you hadn’t followed this career path, what other career could you see yourself in?
Gui: I think I would have directed independent movies. Or be a photographer. Or become an interior designer. I am very attracted by the visual aspect of things.
5. What’s the highlight of your career so far?
GA: Besides meeting you, you mean? Opening my own fine catering business has been an outstanding source of enjoyment, and that would probably not have happened anywhere else than in the United States. So that was a big highlight of my career. My team and I have become somewhat of a local culinary hallmark. We cooked for head of states and celebrities, and we have catered some really, really cool events, like the 300 VIP donors event at the Dali museum. And of course, publishing my first book this year, The Chef’s Repertoire, and winning a Cordon d’Or International Culinary Award for it is a big deal for me.
6. What aspect of your professional life do you enjoy the most?
Gui: I enjoy many parts of it. But what never ceases to attract me is the passion for crafting food. I love cooking of course, especially at home for friends and family, and I love writing.
7. What’s next for Gui Alinat?
Gui: I am planning my second book and focusing on the promotion of my first. I’ve also been approached by a TV producing company so who knows, maybe you’ll see me somewhere else than in those cheesy eDiets commercials!