Julie Andrieu: “Popular cuisine is a good way to understand a country”

Julie Andrieu will participate in this year's edition
Julie Andrieu will participate in this year's edition

The French Julie Andrieu will attend this year's San Sebastian Gastronomika as a Gastronomic Journalism Award winner and she will do so with a smile on her lips. The same smile that has accompanied her during the 20 years that she has been communicating her love of gastronomy, mainly on French television. Information from www.sansebastiangastronomika.com

The daughter of a famous actress, Andrieu does not consider herself to be either a journalist or a chef, although she has a good command of both. She does consider herself a communicator, a position that allows her to speak with authority about the evolution and current state of the profession (journalism) and the sector (gastronomy). A defender of peasant and local cuisine ("The one that invented everything") and of the "magical irregularity of cooking", the Frenchwoman sees and relates points of union between the cuisine of her country and that of Spain, although she chooses pasta if she has to choose a dish.

Julie with her famous red convertible in which she tours the gastronomy of France for television
Julie with her famous red convertible in which she tours the gastronomy of France for television

Tenth winner of the "Pau Albornà i Torras" Gastronomic Journalism Award, Gastronomika's recognition for the best journalistic facet in the field of gastronomy. Congratulations!

Thank you. It has been a great surprise, a great pride and, above all, an immense pleasure. Apart from the French, the Spanish have always been the most assiduous followers of "Las Recetas de Julie" (your latest TV programme), which surprises and delights me, they even recognise me in the street more than in France! I had never been to Gastronomika before, even though it is what it is, one of the main barometers of world gastronomy. I'm not a chef so I didn't necessarily feel in my place. I would never have imagined that I would be recognised as a journalist at this congress, but I am delighted.

Les carnets de Julie
Les carnets de Julie

With the TV series "Les

carnets de Julie" she travels

through the

gastronomy of France

Well, you are dedicated, above all, as the organisation says, for helping to transmit the values of gastronomy.

It is an award that I like, that corresponds to my personality. I have always wanted to be a transmitter, to popularise the knowledge of the "greats" and to generate in others the desire to discover and understand difference, otherness. Giving it value but at the same time relativising my own culture has always been a driving force for me. I am convinced that popular cuisine is one of the most faithful ways of understanding a country and a culture. Tell me what you eat and I'll tell you who you are...

This year at Gastronomika there will be a dialogue between France and Spain, gastronomically complementary countries? 

Of course they are! France is surrounded, like Spain, by the Mediterranean. Both are mountainous countries in which gastronomy is paramount. Many dishes have common roots: cocido is very similar to our pot-au-feu. We also share the cult of ham and charcuterie products. Catalan crème brûlée is undoubtedly the origin of our crème brûlée ennobled by Joël Robuchon. Asturian fabada is surprisingly similar to our cassoulet. And Galician octopus is practically identical to the cooked octopus of Marseille. I had the opportunity to attend the meeting between Ferran Adrià and Michel Guérard. Ferran was very moved and told Michel that he was a master for him and that his books had awakened his passion for cooking. Moments like that mark you for life.

With your programmes, you have travelled all over France and part of the world. Can you choose a region or a recipe? Which one has surprised you the most?

There are so many... Ten years of the programme and almost 300 destinations! I remember a granny in the Landes, near Spain. She cooked a river fish, abundant, very cheap, tasty but little known because it was full of bones: shad. To melt the bones, perfume the fish and cook it without having to constantly check it, she covered it with sweet white wine from the region, added some plums from her orchard and left it to cook in a corner of her oven for 48 hours. The result was sublime. He practised low-temperature cooking before the great chefs and without knowing it. His fish, confit, honeyed, lacquered by the sugars of the wine and the fruit, looked like a Japanese-style eel. Peasant cooking has invented everything!

Julie Andrieu chef

You started working early...

I started working when I was 17, after high school. I wanted to start as soon as possible. I took photos to finance my travels. I travelled around India, Cuba, Nepal and Sri Lanka on my own, with my backpack. I became a photographer. I wanted to be a reporter, to cover international news, major conflicts, to be on the ground, but I realised that this would be to the detriment of my private life. I was in love and probably not motivated enough. However, the will to tell the story stayed with me and I focused on cooking, something much less risky... (laughs). But I never thought about being a chef. I wasn't sedentary enough and I was too solitary. I didn't see myself working within the four walls of a kitchen. I did have the good fortune to be able to stage in the kitchens of Alain Ducasse or Alain Passard.

Touching the crazy demands of haute cuisine with my fingertips, the immense talent of its creators, confirmed for me that this profession could be carried out as an art. But it also allowed me to situate myself: what I had done with photography (travel, discover, explore...) I was going to do with cooking. Transmit techniques, know-how but, above all, create links between people and culture. When I was offered my first opportunity in cooking, I proposed a programme that combined cooking and travel. I didn't have the means to do it at the time but I persevered and, four years later, I sold the programme to Cuisine TV and then to France 5. I travelled around the world for twelve years, in a whirlwind of flavours and incredibly enriching encounters.

Read the full interview on the website of San Sebastian Gastronomika


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