Epic and spectacular, gastronomic, but not always very appetizing, it was in blood and tears that this “Top Chef” semi-final between Arnaud Delvenne, Louise Bourrat and Sébastien Renard was played out. It’s up to everyone to imagine a test to put the others in difficulty who, if they manage to beat him, score a point… In this game, Louise and Arnaud pull out of the game when Sébastien trips over his own carpet. And finished 3rd.
Arnaud opens the ball with a theme in his image, emotional and humorous: tuna fishing. Understanding fruit in syrup and canned tuna, a typical dish for all young Belgians that leaves Louise speechless like the brigade leaders – “Ah, because it’s a dish that exists? exclaims Paul Pairet – a little less Sébastien who grew up not far from the flat country.
The local on the stopover goes with peach ravioli stuffed with raw tuna on squares of tuna tataki, Sébastien with cannelloni of fresh peaches and syrup that he struggles to implement – “It’s ugly, if you use it like that, we take a box, ”warns Pairet. “It’s disgusting old slammed tuna,” Louise can’t help herself as she opens her cans. Louise who plays the card of humor and draws with her elements a fish, a peach and a fishing rod on her plate. “He wants to play? We are going to play, ”she laughs. Audacity that does not pay off, at the tasting: Philippe Etchebest and the Belgian double-starred Sang Hoon Degeimbre place Arnaud in the lead. The scores remain zero.
” It’s a horror movie “
A player, Louise certainly is. Just one step away from the final, she has a big surprise in store for her friends: to prepare a dessert made from pork blood and chicken liver. The “little satanic smile” that Arnaud raised on Louise’s face is explained… “Inwardly, they are panicking”, thinks the one who has her dessert in her pocket, a pudding with black pudding and dried fruits, pear poached in hibiscus and chicken liver ice cream… “It’s a horror film”, slips Paul Pairet. It’s a bit like that… We make pastry creams with blood, we make pancakes with blood, caramel, ice cream or chocolate ganache with blood… It flows and coagulates, red, red. Good grief, but it’s Dracula’s tea party that we are preparing!
Arnaud starts with a blood pancake topped with a chocolate foie cream. It’s nice. “Almost a trompe-l’oeil, it looks like a dessert”, laughs, not without a grimace at the statement of the test, Etchebest. It’s good too. Sébastien dares raw foie gras in ceviche. Ole! “Net from home net, gross from gross”, notes the Italian Simone Zanoni who tastes with the MOF. Neither Arnaud nor Sébastien outclass Louise’s cake. The score remains nil and blank.
It is therefore played on the ultimate test, that of Sébastien. Excelling under pressure, the waiter imposes a revisit of hare à la royale, a classic of French gastronomy that usually takes two days. They only have two hours. A race against the clock in which he throws himself headlong, like the war machine that we have seen him become, forcefully and crashing down the butcher’s sheet on the carcass… It’s because the hare is whole. To cut up, empty, debit… Obviously, it smells strong!
Louise’s secret weapon
To avoid gagging and keep our hearts high, Arnaud plugs his nostrils with twists of paper towel. ” Where are we ? “, tries to go up Glenn Viel. “In the mess”, blows the candidate. It will reboost it. Louise also protects herself, with a towel over her nose like a highwayman ready for the evening robbery. She never made this recipe – neither did Arnaud for that matter – but she has a secret weapon, the notebook of her great-great-grandmother, a cook in a Loire château at the turn of the 19th century. A notebook that she has always loved to read. If she doesn’t have it in hand, this recipe, she has it in mind. And will modernize it with smoked eel, oyster leaves, citrus fruits.
“What creativity! There is a lot of sensitivity in this dish”, notes Christian Le Squer, triple starred who supports Etchebest to decide between the three plates. Left ball in head, Sébastien struggled on his cooking, Etchebest regrets the hardness of the panoufle which wraps the medallion. Its sauce is “wonderful” for Le Squer, which still notes meat that is a little too pink. Arnaud’s plate also seduces, despite a puffed apple that is not very academic and has a disturbing bitterness…
It’s the end, the hour of the balance sheet in front of the bells that hide the result, the moment of sweet words, congratulations or comfort on a cello background. Take out the handkerchiefs… “My career is a reflection of my life, confides Arnaud. Very atypical, but emotionally a crazy thing”. Louise confesses her “impostor syndrome” at the start and says she is “appeased”. “No matter what’s under the bell, I’ve already won,” she smiles. Both earn their place in the final.
Sébastien stops there. “I hope I don’t disappoint anyone,” he breathes while keeping, despite everything, a smile and optimism. And Paul Pairet to assure him of his pride, to congratulate him and to take him on a final tour of the plateau by plane, to celebrate his journey and his semi-final.