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Seafairing master French chef

Each year star chef Olivier Roellinger travels the planet in search of inspiration for his dishes.

by: AFP: Simon Coss | 09 May 2008

For this quintessentially philosophical Frenchman, cooking is more than a simple question of measurements, ingredients and temperature.

"My cooking is the cooking of the house I grew up in," says the mild-mannered 52-year-old, who this month is the subject of a new book and a film.

Roellinger in fact opened his restaurant, Les Maisons de Bricourt, in 1982 in the house where he was born. In 2006 it was awarded what is arguably the gastronomic world's ultimate accolade, three stars by the Michelin Guide which is the foodie bible. It was the first time a restaurant specialising in fish and seafood had received that honour.

Before becoming the Roellinger family home, Les Maisons de Bricourt belonged to French spice traders of the well known Compagnie des Indes.

And spices figure heavily in Roellinger's cuisine, with a stock of over 120 selected during his regular jaunts to countries as far apart as India, Brazil, Japan or Vietnam.

Describing some of them as "dynamite," he says that without them his dishes would be "linear, bland and sad." But using spices properly is an art not easy to master, he warns.

"When I prepare a spice mix today I don't usually need to taste it. I sometimes get it slightly wrong but generally it's the right combination. But getting to that point has been the result of 28 years of work and experimentation."

His creations include oysters with nutmeg and chiloe pepper, turbot with citrus zests and lobster whipped up in sherry, chilli and cocoa.

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