INTERVIEW – The 33-year-old chef left the M6 competition at the gates of the quarter-finals. He looks back on his defeat with TV Magazine.
His departure had the effect of a thunderclap in “Top Chef”. This Wednesday, May 18, Mickaël Braure left the kitchens of the M6 culinary competition to the general amazement. The chef of bistro Witloof near Lille was in fact one of the favorites of this season 13. Trained in many star restaurants, he surprised and delighted the judges and the guest chefs throughout the episodes with a kitchen at both technical, original and tasty and had only participated in one last chance before tonight. After narrowly missing qualifying for the quarter-finals in the first round and a moderately successful second challenge, the protégé of Philippe Etchebest, a staunch defender of his native Nord Pas-de-Calais, finally bowed in one last chance at the lam against his former teammate Sébastien. He talks about his experience.
TV MAGAZINE. – What was your reaction when you were eliminated?
Michael BRAURE. – I was clearly disappointed. It’s a shame to leave the competition at the gates of the quarter-finals, but to finish in fifth place isn’t bad after all. I am satisfied with the result and with what I have done.
What did the bosses tell you after you were eliminated?
They were disappointed and surprised that I left so quickly because they saw me go to the final. I’ve done the bullshit of offering vintage as a last chance! I should never have done that, but rather bring an extra technique. In the north, raw salt meadow lamb is prepared with seaweed. I was fired, but I should have thought sooner…
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During the first test you went to nothing in qualifying, how did you experience that?
For me I had won, I was calm. So I fell from above when Jean Imbert didn’t pick my plate, it really surprised me. He loved my sweetbreads, but it didn’t go down because of a tiny bit of overcooking… Afterwards I was a little discouraged and disappointed.
During the second round you were coached by Alexandre Gauthier (La Grenouillère). Did that put extra pressure on you?
He is one of the best chefs in my area and I have a lot of respect for him so it was really a big pressure to work alongside him. It was also not easy to try to share a recipe in such a short time while our culinary worlds are completely different… I had the impression that we didn’t speak the same language. He is much more technical than I am, so I was both impressed and a little lost. I had a good time with the chef, but it was not easy in the kitchen.
Speaking of chef, what connection did you have with Philippe Etchebest?
I love him and I think he does too. I don’t think I would have gotten this far in the adventure without him, because he could lead me. We’re still in touch. He calls me very often to check how I am doing. He hasn’t come to my restaurant yet, but he has a concert up north soon and he normally comes over to see me.
And with the other candidates, how was the atmosphere?
We’ve all had very strong moments together. It inevitably creates connections, we love each other. Me, I love them all.
You seemed to get along particularly well with Pascal, the youngest of the competition…
He was my little protege, I wanted him to be all right. I have mothered him a lot during the adventure.
You did a really good job of having one last chance before tonight. Did you see yourself go all the way?
Of course I saw myself going to the final, I was certainly looking forward to it. When we get to the gates of the quarters, we start getting ready to be there. It seemed obvious, but often things don’t happen like they do in the movies.
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Do you regret?
No, I don’t regret it because I was very surprised myself to go that far. Although I had a good run, I wasn’t as sure of myself as it seems.
Why did you participate in “Top Chef”?
I came to seek a victory of my own. I wanted to prove to myself that even if I make bistro dishes in my restaurant today, I can cook more luxuriously, very elaborately and carefully. I also wanted to promote my region and show that things are happening in the North.
Have you learned things about yourself and what has this adventure brought you?
Every time I picked up a plate, I said to myself, “I really know how to do that!” (laughs). I was surprised by surprise from start to finish. “Top Chef” allowed me to meet a lot of people and make a lot of friends. It gave me a little more confidence in myself culinary speaking. I also discovered many things.
A word about Philo-saucisse, the establishment conceived during the restaurant war that was born in Paris…
The ordeal of the restaurant war was undoubtedly my best moment in the adventure. I loved!
The restaurant is ephemeral, don’t you want it to become permanent?
This is a project I want to develop in my region. At the beginning of 2023 I will open a new branch near my restaurant. We are renovating a farm with a sausage tapas bar, a microbrewery where we will make our beer and a bistro-restaurant with 80 seats.
Are you planning to open a gastronomic establishment?
No, that’s not what I know how to do and my goal is not to have stars. I prefer to cook farmhouse cuisine.
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How do you live our fame?
It’s fun, we’re a little crazy (laughs). Other than asking for photos at night, not much changes, people are respectful.
And at your restaurant?
However, things have changed here! I used to book week after week, now it is monthly and we are sold out until September. It’s great, even if it’s not always easy to manage.
Do you have other projects?
I come back to my restaurant to spend time with my team. At the same time, I will participate in a few fairs, festivals or multi-handed meals with other chefs. On June 5, I will cook with Chef Sébastien de la Borde’s for a six-handed dinner with Damien Laforce, season 10 candidate of “Top Chef” in Bermicourt at Chef Sébastien de la Borde’s.
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