~Alice Moireau Interviewed by Lucia Bell-Epstein
Continued from: ~Oeufs Mimosa – Food Journals from a Month in Paris
“…On my last afternoon in Paris, I climbed the stairs to Alice Morieau’s apartment in Belleville. A cook, food stylist, and overall culinary artist, Alice welcomed me into her home; we skipped awkward niceties to immediately start talking about food. Her tone and mannerisms were passionate as she described her infatuation with Algerian pastries, preserved lemon in salads, and her obsession with sheep’s milk yogurt. We spend the next hour going through her pantry and same-day market provisions…”
Lucia Bell-Epstein : What in your pantry are you excited about?
AM: Try this roasted Macadamia nut. A game changer. I never tasted Macadamia like this, you know? So this is my goal in life. Everything I taste, I would like to have the most exquisite taste of it, you know, but simple. It’s not even salted, the Macadamia are just roasted.
LBE: Who taught you how to cook?
AM: No one. I would see my dad cook but he didn’t really teach me. I learned by watching. My parents are painters. Most of the ceramics in the kitchen are made by my mom.
LBE: What kind of projects are you working on?
AM: Right now I am working for a brand called Christofle. They’ve been making silver plates, forks and knives for over two centuries. This plate here is from 1830. I do events for them: hosting dinners in Paris and the South of France. Sometimes I cook the dinner myself, sometimes I collaborate with a chef. It depends on the specific event. Everything is well thought out. For example if we are hosting a dinner for 25, introducing a new collection, I would hire a chef. That meal needs to be gastronomical. I do friendly cooking, daily life cooking, it’s very simple. I am not a chef. In some situations I need to work with experts. I love hosting people, and sometimes you need to choose between cooking and hosting. It is very hard to do both. My last event I worked with the chef at Clown Bar. He is from Lisbon by way of Cape Verde. His cooking is so precise and perfect. It’s very mindful cuisine.
Alice’s Pantry Pictured above –
- Boutargue from Marseille
- Fresh Orecchiette
- Hand Picked Anchovies
- Dry Oregano from Olhao, Portugal
- Jam from Babylonstoren, South Africa
- Honey from Tuscany
- Fleur de Sel from Ile de Ré
- Dry Udon from Japan
LBE: If you had to pick one ingredient to cook with the most, what would it be?
AM: I mean right now I am doing a lot of asparagus, because it is the season. I am doing it every way possible: roasted, grilled, risotto, sometimes in the oven, sometimes on the barbeque.
Most of the time I steam it because it’s so fresh and so tasty, and you can actually feel the whole asparagus. To me this is the best way to eat asparagus because nothing is hidden. For example, for lunch I did steamed asparagus with tuna, olives, green garlic, and Japanese Bonito sweet vinegar sauce.
I make meals like this all the time, following the same principle. I only use 3 to 5 ingredients, maximum 6 that are good quality.
LBE: Are there any artists that inspire you?
AM: Daniel Spoerri. I love the tables he made. He glued everything to the surface of a table and then stuck the table on the wall. Each piece was a proper meal: he would glue the meal to the table, and fix it all to a wall. I also love Rothko, because I love the colors. It’s very classic I know, not weird at all, but I love Rothko so much. I also love old clothes, vintage stuff, with interesting shapes and colors.
In terms of music, well I listen to a lot of American country and reggaeton, and I play classical music when I want to think about nothing. I love the song Sweet Florence. I love Italian disco, anything groovy I like.
LBE: You’re working in food but you’re not a chef – can you describe what you do? How do food, cooking, and art come together in your work?
AM: Food to me is a ritual. Food is about gathering people, but it is also about every step along the way to that gathering. You buy your groceries, you store them in the fridge, you decide how you will set your table, paper napkins or fabric napkins, what are you going to wear? The whole experience around making a meal I love so much. Everything is a choice. You choose the people, you choose the food, you choose the meal, you choose how you set the table. It’s a curation. How can I curate this moment so I can have the most magical experience? I want to curate the best ingredients to make the dish nice, I want to put it on a nice plate because that will improve the presentation. The lighting is part of the ritual. The choice between overhead lighting and candles. Even the ashtray for the cigarettes is important. I like all the little steps that lead you to a meal.
I’m really lucky I get to curate these moments for work. I’m not only cooking, I’m not only styling, I’m not only hosting. I’m doing a bit of everything. I cook, I style, I consult for brands. I am very specific about my clients, I only work with a few people. I want to have long relationships with them – I need to have trust. I love the events I curate.