Anchor of Sauveterre forever, holding for 32 years the star of the Michelin guide, Michel Truchon, humble and modest, combines a love of life, authentic cuisine, good products, friendship and his terroir that is not his leave for anything in the world.
It’s Monday, the kitchen is closed, it’s garden day. Michel Truchon puts down his rake, shares a coffee and is a little surprised that people want to know two or three things about him. He has little taste for the spotlight, it’s not anything to say. At 71 years old, and for 30 years in his hotel-restaurant built within the ear of the inn that his mother once ran, this Sauveterrat always crosses the times without noise when others to take center stage. Clever to the point of excitement. “No, I would say humble. For me, humility is a virtue. I always have a feeling of inferiority: for me, colleagues do things that I cannot do…” The look is deceiving but the speech is sincere. A Michelin star for three decades, prizes here and there, until this Trophy for technical excellence awarded in May of this year by Gault-Millau, whose plaque he inserted into a corner of the wall , without wanting to explain too much what it equates to…
You have to look at the story of this tall, messy-haired man for the stigmata of this modesty he claims. He tried to explain: “I don’t know what drives me to do this work. Something has to be done. My mother is a good cook like the poor people, she runs an inn, there, opposite, with simple meals that people share in a friendly atmosphere.” A mother, rooted in the agricultural community, born in 1909, “when it was still in the Middle Ages”. The value of work, which he always anchors in the body, is the essential engine of survival, “I started with coal stoves and some ass kicks”.
“It’s so good here”
Michel Truchon will create the hotel school after the patent, leaving Sauveterre. to leave, as well as to go far. This is Grenoble, the starting point of an apprenticeship built around gastronomy. So when he takes over his mother’s house, he has to make a choice. It will be top-of-the-range catering, a new building and a hotel in the hands of his wife Chantal (a native of Quins). Eleven rooms, many faithful, from all over the world. “We had to fight in the beginning, but I’m not complaining.” The result did not last long, the Seneschal carved a good reputation for himself, promoted by a brigade of eight soldiers of taste and the genius of the chef whose philosophy is dictated by the love of the truth, the plate and the relationship that he held with his contemporaries. He wants nothing more than to create wonderful encounters with his clients, “It’s a profession too strong for that”.
A profession that he would not deny anything in the world, like this Aveyron that he always refused: “I am very good here with my friends, my family, my clients, I found my balance there, I am good there. We are isolated but never disappear. Even if it is not “top”, commercial, and that You always have to juggle the quality-price ratio. We pay dearly for our freedom, but you have to know what you want…”
A terroir, permanent quality… this is the world of Michel Truchon. “We have been talking about short circuits for seven or eight years, but we have always worked like this. I am very attached to the seasons, markets, mood, local products. Cheeses and meats are the corner, vegetables from the Lot valley, fruits from Montauban. Only the fish of the sea does not come from here! In general, this is the product that rules. The recipe must be adapted to our time. it is at the time that one will be judged.”
The times rule
Michel Truchon never lost his star and tirelessly, twice a week to the Rodez market, at 5 am. “My suppliers, I always follow them. And I am with them like life, honest and in good faith!”
There is no “signature dish” at Le Sénéchal, the season is here again, even if the chef, who “greed” and that “love everyone” fond of offal that sometimes suppresses the significant curiosity of customers. He also spends a crazy love in museums, but it does not cook for all that!
Michel Truchon is determined with his time, which makes him jump a little now, with the loss of the amount of work he sees there. “In our society, we’re kind of at the end of the line… I notice what I see, I’m not a philosopher.” The chef admits, like a viaticum, that he is superior “just and fair”.
Defining it, if not through the need for authenticity, is quite difficult.
Let’s focus on the quote from René Char that he puts on his menus: “The important is always threatened by the insignificant.”
And in the same vein, this Monday night, he will not ask for anything in the world, the giant barbecue he organized in the garden of the Seneschal for his colleagues and friends.