Global recognition for Bury St Edmunds’ Maison Bleue

The team at Maison Bleue Picture: Lucy Taylor Photography

The team at Maison Bleue Picture: Lucy Taylor Photography - Credit: Archant

Maison Bleue in Bury St Edmunds scoops two international awards.

Staff at Maison Bleue in Bury St Edmunds are celebrating yet more awards coming their way. In a double accolade, the French restaurant has been named regional winner for fine dining in the 2018 Worldwide Luxury Restaurant Awards (for the second year), as well as being global winner in the haute cuisine category from the same awarding body.

Charlotte Smith-Jarvis caught-up with chef-patron Pascale Canevet, who runs the restaurant with his wine Karine.

Q: Another award! How do you feel?

A: It’s great. We’re always trying to improve and do better than the previous day. We love it. This is a fantastic achievement not only for me but for the whole team because it’s very important to recognise all the effort they put in their work. So we are thrilled but not so excited we ‘have watermelons standing on our heads’. We will never rest on our laurels.

Q: What is it that’s made the restaurant such a success do you think?

A: Apart from fantastic staff it’s that Karine and I don’t think of this as work or a job. It’s a lifestyle. So we don’t ‘come into work’. It is our world. And we try to challenge ourselves all the time. It’s a daily challenge.

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Q: What do you love about being a Suffolk chef?

A: I’ve been here for 25 years now and the progress of what’s available today is amazing. We’ve got some great land and ingredients. The other day someone brought me a Suffolk cheese to try and it was amazing. When you were eating it, the taste was like the smell of being at the farm when you collect the milk and it reminded me of being 10 years old collecting my milk in the morning from the farm next to us.

Q: Any signature dishes you’ve had to keep on the menu?

I used to do a 24 hour cooked apple with salted caramel ice cream and caramel sauce and people would jump on it and keep asking for it but it’s not our style anymore. That could have been a signature dish. Something I cook at home regularly for myself and Karine is roast chicken. In France quite often on Sundays people will have chicken and chips.

Q: What’s your earliest memory relating to food?

My grandmother’s carrot soup. Nobody managed to do it again. She died when I was seven or eight years old and all the memories I have of her are about food. She used to have some small chickens which produced very small eggs and she kept them for me. I would fry the eggs and have some carrot soup.

Q: Where do you like to eat out locally?

The Crown at Bildeston, Pea Porridge because I like my comfort food, and The Unruly Pig near Woodbridge. The Weeping Willow is also a nice place to go. In Norfolk we love to go to Morston Hall where we’ll stay overnight. When we arrive we feel so relaxed!

Q: Is there a dish you’re loving on your current menu?

Yes it’s a saddle of lamb from an organic farm near Bury and I’ll be cooking it on stage with John the farmer at the Bury St Edmunds food festival. In the restaurant I take the shoulder, cook it for several hours and mix it with the juice and make a little cake and I stuff the saddle and cook it at 54C, then roast it to make a duo of lamb. I love lamb. We always had around 10 in the field when I was a child. My mum looked after the animals and the house and the land and my father was a bank manager. He’d finish at 5pm-6pm and come home, remove his tie and go into the garden for an hour. Everything on the table was fresh from the garden or from the farm next door. Never from more than 5km away.

Q: The restaurant’s long been known for fish. Any cooking tips?

Cook it with care. Often fish is cooked too much. The best thing if you are frying a fish is make sure you mix a bit of olive oil and butter in the pan on not too high a temperature. On a good medium heat put the fish and leave it to cook on one side. When there is good colour turn it and move the pan to the side of the cooker, trying to reach 50C to 52C inside the fish.

Q: What’s the one thing everyone should learn to cook?

You don’t need to be an expert. Learning to make a roast is good. It doesn’t take very long. Or, if you are not very good with pastry, take some strawberries, wash them, cut them, add a bit of sugar and balsamic vinegar and red wine and you’ve got a pudding.

Q: Who would you most like to have dinner with?

It has to be Jean-Francois Piege. His restaurant was named best in the World Luxury Restaurant Awards 2018. He is amazing. His food is very gastronomic and has lots of memories of his mother and grandmother.

Q: What couldn’t you live without in your fridge?

Butter…and milk.

Q: Is there any food you don’t like?

Probably sardines. I don’t really like them. I look to cook them but they have so many bones. Also, as a teenager I didn’t like beetroot. My mum would make a salad with them and it was either you eat it or you don’t. A few years ago I bought a Big Green Egg and cooked beetroot on it. Now I love it. They have so much flavour. Like in pastry. I made a beetroot and red cabbage ice cream once. I think that was a bit too much for some people!

Q: If you could go and eat anywhere in the world now, where would it be?

I’d like to go to Thailand to discover the food. Or, to be honest, just to be anywhere by the seaside eating seafood. It doesn’t matter where as long as I have seafood and the sea to jump into.

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