“Thanks to my earnings, I will open a restaurant with Albane”

INTERVIEW – On Wednesday evening, the 24-year-old won the culinary competition against Danny Khezzar.

After fifteen weeks of competition, season 14 of “Top chef” ended this Wednesday, June 7 with the victory of Hugo Riboulet. The cook, youngest of the competition at the height of his 23 years, won the culinary competition of M6 facing his sidekick Danny Khezzar. His menu, which featured mushrooms, cabbage and chocolate, won over Red Cross volunteers and jurors who voted for him with 54.81% of the vote. The protege of Philippe Etchebestlong second in Laurent Petit’s three-star restaurant Le Clos des Sens in Annecy, confides in this adventure.

TVMAGAZINE. – How did you feel when you discovered the steel blade?
Hugo Riboulet. – I did not expect that ! I had programmed a defeat in my head to be disappointed as little as possible and that increased my feelings tenfold when I won. In addition, I had my whole family around me, my former bosses, colleagues… There were almost thirty of us! As soon as they saw the result, they blew me up in the air, it was huge. I had the feeling of having accomplished everything, of having fought until the end to win the Holy Grail. It was crazy stuff. All my loved ones told me that I had made them feel emotions that they will only experience once in their life.

In what state of mind were you before this final?
I’ve only been to starred restaurants where you never serve more than 40 covers per service, so I’ve never experienced the banquet mode. Especially since there were five of us to serve 104 covers and we didn’t know the kitchen. I had never done that in my life and I was very apprehensive. There were unforeseen events, equipment problems… In the end, we quickly found ourselves in the juice.

Read also“The production refused my menu”: the disappointment of Danny Khezzar before the final of “Top Chef”

How was this final?
Everything did not go as planned, it would have been too good! When the chiefs p, it seems that they remain ten minutes but they take us one hour of time. I had organized myself to put two clerks on the starters, two others on the dishes and I on the desserts. But when the chefs came by for an hour, the desserts weren’t coming along and I also had to show others how to do it. In the end, I found myself in the juice during the service doing the mise en place. The big concern was also the lack of equipment.

That’s to say ?
There were not enough large volume pans. I also had preparations requiring specific equipment, such as new plates, which I did not have. Afterwards, that’s “Top Chef”, you have to adapt and manage to bounce back in any case.

You were facing Danny, were you afraid of him?
Yes, because he has already made a great comeback during the “Hidden Brigade” and, on top of that, he is also from the starry world like me. He is a very good technician. I knew it was going to be very hard and that nothing should be left to chance.

“I think you had to take risks because people are there to discover things. »

Hugo Riboulet, winner of “Top Chef”.

How did you compose your menu?
I made an entry around the mushroom by combining techniques to manage to surprise. As a dish, I chose to use oysters and cabbage as the main garnish, it was a bias. I think you had to take risks because people are there to discover things.

You seemed very close with Philippe Etchebest, how would you describe this bond?
We had to trust each other, for me to understand his cooking and he mine. After that click, it was really much better. I erted myself in my kitchen and he always brought me a technique, a little something extra that made the difference. It was our strength. As the competition went on, it was exponential and when I reached the quarter-finals, I felt a very strong support from him. It gave me wings.

Read also“Top Chef” has whetted appetites for cooking

You presented an empty plate to Chef Jordi Roca.This moment will mark the history of “Top Chef”, how did you experience it?
Not a day goes by that I don’t hear about it! This improvisation, the acting… All the stars were aligned that day. I was on my little cloud. This is the test of which I am the most proud and which allowed me to have confidence in myself culinary speaking.

“I didn’t come to show off on television but to take part in a real cooking competition. It is a personal accomplishment. »

Hugo Riboulet on his victory

What does it mean to you to have won “Top Chef”?
It is the realization of all the work that I have done upstream. I hadn’t come to show off on television but to take part in a real cooking competition. It is a personal accomplishment. I also did it for my former bosses who took the time to explain things to me and train me. Winning allows me to thank them in my own way. I also think back to the sacrifices of my family and mine too, all the times I spent in the kitchen when everyone else was having fun. When you’re young, it’s not easy. There, I tell myself that I did not do this for nothing and that the work pays off.

Why did you enter the competition?
I was 23 years old, I was second in a triple star and I wanted to know where I was. I also wanted to do a cooking contest because I had never done one. And then, “Top Chef” is a career and notoriety accelerator and, as I had the objective of opening an establishment, I took my chance.

How was the atmosphere with the other candidates in the contest?
It was crazy ! I have never eaten so many times in a restaurant in my life! On the weekends, we went to drink shots, we went out, it removed the competitive side of the competition. It allowed us to forge incomparable links.

Read alsoMathieu, eliminated from “Top Chef”: “Glenn Viel offered me to come and do an internship in his restaurant”

Did you learn anything about yourself during the contest?
I discovered that I could be stressed when it is not my nature. Otherwise, the competition allowed me to activate my creativity, to push myself to my limits, to do things that I would never have imagined, such as the trompe-l’oeil pétanque ball or the upside-down plate.

How are you going to use your 54,810 euros in earnings?
I am going to invest in a street food concept in Paris with Albane. We had, each on our side and without consulting each other, the desire to franchise a concept. With the current situation, this has many advantages because there is no need for a lot of staff or a lot of investment and it is quite profitable. The idea would then be, with the funds obtained, to open a gourmet restaurant. For the concept, I can’t say anything because it’s new in France and almost abroad. It will open at the beginning of November and, if it works, the goal would be to develop throughout France.

Which of you two thought of this unique concept?
It was Albane who had the idea, but we’re working on a product that I’m very used to cooking. So it matches well because I can bring my know-how to the project.

Why did you choose to partner with Albane?
We got along very well on the competition, it was friendly. We are both very young and it is quite complicated to start alone. Being two makes it possible to divide the costs and separate the tasks. We are very complementary with Albane. I am more in the creation part and she in the relationship.

Do you have other projects?
I have a lot of residences this summer. I will be in Lyon for four days at the end of June. In July and August, I will sign a few dates at the ephemeral restaurant in the garden of Clos des sens. I will also be with my former chef Masashi Ijichi in Valence for a week in his restaurant La cachette. I will put my à la carte menu in the form of small, simple dishes to share with a very vegetal signature. I am also waiting for the proposals that can be made to me…

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