Make the truffle more accessible. This is how his approach summarizes Sebastian Gaillard, head of The Truffle… and Algo Mas in Aups, which he holds with his wife, Nadine. It will be ten years since they embarked on the culinary exploitation of this black gold.
Sebastian was born in Buenos Aires and spent part of his childhood in France, he returned to Latin America where he lived, Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil. At the dawn of the 2000s, in a desire to reconnect with his roots, Sebastian returned to the old continent, first to the Costa Brava in Spain, then very quickly to France. “My grandparents were French and French cuisine is one of the basics of learning, even in cooking schools in Argentina. It’s like going back to basics.”
After a season at Aups, Sébastian will work for several years in Nice and will spend in several establishments such as The Boccaccio, Mary’s House, The Great Balconyas well as at Nice view in Moissac-Bellevue in the Var. He will also, during these years, assert his professionalism and become a member of the Culinary College of France, of the Disciples of Escoffier, of the association of Toques Blanches and of the Cordon d’Or of Monaco. But it is in order to be closer to his wife and children that he returns to Aups where he will finally start, in 2012, in the truffle…
“At the start, it wasn’t necessarily truffles. We knew the product but we weren’t in that niche. Aups is the truffle capital of the Haut Var, but the problem lay in the fact that this product was only reserved for a very small clientele.
It is by wanting to democratize this black diamond that the Argentinian chef will impose himself in the capital of the truffle. As with the “Aups dog”, a chipolata seasoned with black truffles. This is available at local markets or at Bubble tea, next to the restaurant, run by Nadine.
“This allows everyone who visits Aups to taste the truffle”explains Sebastian.
with chocolate, prawns, passion fruit?
To get away from the traditional truffle brouillade, Sebastian will rely on one of his bedside books: The essential by Chartier. It proposes to compose recipes by analyzing the molecule of a product and by associating it with other, complementary ones. “The truffle contains androsterone. It can therefore be associated with chocolate, shrimp, passion fruit… It is one of the bases of my cooking. Obviously, I pay attention to the balance between acidity and bitterness, between sweet and salty, fat.”
One of the chef’s golden rules: never cook the truffle, so that it doesn’t lose its flavor. Drawing on these origins and travels, he revisits it, at the crossroads of French and Latin American cuisines.
We thus find, on the menu, truffled foie gras accompanied by hazelnut granola and milk foam, or tuna in sashimi with zucchini and ginger ponzu. With the same truffle, the chef creates a great diversity of tastes thanks to the different combinations of flavors and the work on the texture. The chef also offers a menu without truffles, where we find chimichurri or Argentinian beef.
Sebastian makes it a point of honor to work as much as possible with regional products, including the black truffle from Provence, although drought problems, which are increasingly recurrent in the region, raise fears of a drop in production.
To remedy this problem, he deals with the very recent Argentine black truffle market. “I decided to also source my supplies there because, on the one hand, these are my roots, on the other, I can continue to work, even in summer, the winter truffle, the Tuber melanosporum, the same as here because it’s winter in Argentina. Summer truffles are becoming rare and light in taste. Whether it’s from here or Argentina, I only work with fresh truffles. “
… Y algo mas
If Sebastian applies himself to working the truffle on the salty side, it is Nadine, originally from Paraguay, who takes care of the desserts by also adding truffles.
The one who appeared in the M6 show Cake Kings, with Cyril Lignac, in 2018, works in the same way as her husband: on the right combination of molecule and taste. As in a truffle caramel – “one of the most requested products”which coats a French toast – or in a homemade truffle vanilla ice cream accompanied by ginger. “Simple things, it’s summer and we can’t offer too heavy desserts.”
Nadine has also become a Toque blanche, pastry section. “I have always worked with my husband, but I only got my pastry diploma in 2020. A year later, I was inducted into a Toque blanche. It was important for me to truly become a professional. And we we have kept this: this desire to always learn.”
The Truffle… Y algo más. 10, rue Maréchal-Foch in Aups. From Wednesday to Sunday noon and evening.
Starter and main course truffle menu from 60 euros, Algo Mas menu from 38 euros.