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 earshot of the inn that used to be run by his mother, this Sauveterrat always passes the years without making a fuss when others take center stage. Clever to the point of excitement. “No, I say humbly. Humility is a virtue for me. 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 the Trophy for Techniques of Excellence given in May of this year by Gault-Millau, whose plaque he broke into a corner of the wall, without want to explain exactly what it is. equal to… You have to look at the history of this great man, messy and hair-raising, the stigmata of this modesty that he claims. He tried to explain: “I don’t know what drives me to do this job. Something needs to be done. My mother cooks well 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, “Time when the Middle Ages were here”. 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. From, so much 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 find my balance there, I am good there. We are separated but never lost. Although it is not “above”, it is commercial, and you always have to juggle the quality-price ratio. We paid 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 loyal to the seasons, the markets, the mood, the local products. Local cheeses and meats , 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. We must adapt the recipe to our time. And in the hour when we 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 as life, honest and in good faith! ». There is no “signature dish” at Le Sénéchal, the season dictates here again, although the chef, who “greed” and that “love everyone” fond of offal that sometimes suppresses the essential 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 by its need for authenticity, is somewhat difficult.
Let’s refer to this 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.