Conversation with Xavier Rousset, who is running Texture oraz Wine Workshop & Kitchen 28-50 in London together with Agnar Sviersson.
Is it true that you are able to open bottle of wine in 30 different ways?
I am not sure, if I know all the 30 different ways, but I do know how to open a bottle of wine with shoe lace.
What kind of wines do you recommend for your guests?
Great wine should be a compromise between various palate and price and value ratio. Guests pay as much attention for the wine as for the food. If the wine menu has good quality, we should feel safe that the food will be good as well. Restaurants make money on the price of beverages, and all the compromises with the quality of food or wines are risky, especially in the time of recession.
When did you fall in love in wine?
Growing up, there was always wine on the table, and if I was lucky, I got a small glass. Every time we went on holiday we visited vineyards, which made me thirsty to learn more about wine. A 30-year-old Banyuls from the local cave cooperative while I was on holiday in the area – I was amazed by its depth of flavor.
Thats leads you towards Master Sommelier?
It was not so easy. The exam was composed of three parts: theory (wines,water,spirits), practice (food and wine matching) and identification of strains.
Did MS title helped you in opening your own restaurant?
I became MS when I was 23, this resulted in a number of proposals for cooperation. In fact, when I was 18 years old, I already knew and I was sure of that, that one day I will have my own restaurant.
Do you think, that the perfect palette is a gift?
People say its a gift, but i am not gifted. I worked for it. I am the only one from my family. I am the only one in the trade. I am tasting nearly 2000-3000 thousands wines per year, daily around 10 wines.
It is said, that fine dining restaurants are the places just for one visit?
I do not agree with that opinion. Nowadays we eat out more and more- it is caused by: long working hours for example. Eating out become a habit, and ordinary activity, kind of standard. Londoners are specific, for my guests eating out is a habit, like going to the gym.
Is it possible to predict success of the restaurant?
I have been in the trade since 10 years and believe me I would like to know the answer for this question. This is one of the most unpredictable industry where success is determined not so much hard work and experience, but the most surprising details. Perfect food, localization, your experience are not always enough. It’s definitely not enough to distuingish from the thousands of good restaurants in London. You have to know how to sell your services, good PR is crucial. So what that you have a good restaurant if nobody knows about it.
How did it happen that you started cooperate with Aggi?
We used to work together in Le Manoir. That time, I was head sommelier, and Aggi was a head chef. From the beginning it was a risky. Aggi is from Iceland, he is rather introverted and quiet. I come from Southern France, from Lyon, our tandem are two extreme personalities.
What kind of people do you recruit?
Recruitment and search for good employees is one of the most difficult parts of running a restaurant. I am looking for people to whom I can rely on. If you already find a person who is talented, doing well and honest to you that such employee has been with you as long as possible. The problem is, when you go through all the stages of a restaurant career and someone becomes the wall. Further advancement is just a restaurant owner. I also have an observation that the young generation wants everything fast -one day be a waitress, and the next wanting to be the general manager. They think they understand the business.
If you could invite anyone, living or dead to diner- who would it be?
That would be Gerard Depardieu, he is passionated with wines, he loves life. I am his fan.
What do you know about Polish cuisine?
Not much, but I do know Robert, because you used to work together in Le Manoir. Actually it’s nothing. But I must boast that I worked at Le Manoir with Robert Trzópek, which from what I know, he is now a popular and valued Polish cook.
The interview was published in the Food Service Magazine (www.foodservice24.pl)