By SEBASTIEN LAFOREST Photography COURTESY OF EMMANUEL DELCOUR
What’s not love about Emmanuel Delcour? He’s a determined and passionate French chef who’s taking the culinary scene by storm. With such an amiable personality, it’s no surprise that Delcour is a success at all that he does.
Delcour has done it all from graduating world-renowned chef Jean-Christophe Novelli's prestigious North-American Novelli Academy on Bravo’s Chef Academy to acting alongside Emmy award-winning actress, Julia Louis-Dreyfus in the movie, Picture Paris. He even runs his own gallery & restaurant, the Ground Floor Café, in downtown Los Angeles.
But what is like when Chef Emmanuel isn’t hosting events with Food Network stars? Or managing his restaurant the Ground Floor Café? What is it like behind the scenes of his of all his various projects?
Emmanuel Delcour graciously takes the time to chat with us on everything from childhood memories to current and future projects.
SEBASTIEN LAFOREST: Tell me a little about yourself. Where are you from? What's your educational background?
ED: I grew up in southwest France in the countryside. My father was a veterinarian, my mom a nurse. I moved to the big city in Bordeaux when I was eighteen to study graphic design for five years. When I got my degree, I decided to live the adventure and move to Los Angeles, California.
SL: How did you get involved in the culinary world?
ED: Four years ago I did a casting for Chef Academy. They [the producers] were looking for professional chefs or home cooks to compete in the show. I cooked all my life in France and I saw it like an amazing opportunity to learn from one of the world's top French chefs, Jean Christophe Novelli.
SL: What is your best childhood food memory?
ED: Oh, I think my mom throwing a crêpe party for my friends and me as a kid. Her crêpes with Nutella were so good and made us so happy!
SL: What is your favorite ingredient to work with?
ED: I love to cook with black truffles. It's such a magical ingredient, so delicate and rare. It really brings another dimension of flavor that is, for me, an aphrodisiac. I love to buy them here in LA from the truffle brothers, two Italian brothers, which have the best truffles imported from France and Italy. It's like buying gold [laughs]. It's very exciting and each mushroom to choose from looks different. My best tip is to keep your truffles with a few eggs in a box in the fridge overnight. Then, cook your eggs and they will taste like black truffles.
SL: What is your favorite dish of all time?
ED: I have to say a French classic I used to order every time I went to restaurants as a kid, "truite amandine" [trout with almonds in French]. The fresh fish and toasted almond with a lemon buttery sauce...It’s the perfect combination! It's so delicate and delicious, and it reminds me of my childhood.
SL: Do you cook to music? If so, what's on your cooking playlist?
ED: I love to cook while listening jazz. It's relaxing and energizing at the same time, and it makes you look cool when you cook [laughs]. My favorite would be St. Germain, an acid jazz French band. I think music in general, makes you inspired when you cook. If I ever compete on Chopped one day, I wish I could listen to fast techno music [laughs].
SL: What’s your guilty pleasure when it comes to food?
ED: Oh, I have a lot! But, one of them is cheesecake! I discovered that when I came to America and it became my favorite dessert. My favorite is the brownie sundae cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory: a layer of delicious brownie with walnuts, a layer of cheesecake, a layer of chocolate and caramel, all covered by a hot chocolate fudge with toasted almonds. I eat that and I am in Heaven... I love rich, chocolate desserts.
SL: If you weren't a chef, what do you think you would do instead?
ED: I would definitely be in the creative department at an advertisement agency in New York or Paris. Television commercials in France are very beautiful and creative! I would make the best commercials.
SL: If you could create the perfect day off, no work –including not tweeting– just Emmanuel, what would that day be?
ED: I would wake up; have a very nice cup of coffee by the beach while listening to a song that would make me happy. I would go run on the beach to start my day by playing a sport, to feel good and energized. I would cook something for somebody I love because it really makes me happy. I would do something I have never done before, like swimming with dolphins or hike into a place I have never seen with somebody I love… I know it's a lot of walking already. We would watch a sunset because there is always something magical about that. Then, I would go home, take a very nice bath and relax for an hour, while getting a massage. Then, dress very nicely and go out to dinner at a very nice place. Have a very nice dessert with chocolate, and go out with friends dancing at a great club. Then, I would take the person that I love and spend some quality time in the privacy of a beautiful hotel room, that I would have booked in advance and filled with flowers [smiles].
SL: If you could invite 6 guests, living or dead for dinner, who would they be?
ED: My dad, he passed away 10 years ago; my mom, she'd be happy to see him; Elvis Presley, he probably has so many cool stories; the Dalai Lama, to spread peace around the table; Johnny Depp, he's so talented and cool; Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto… and a translator laughs; and I'll add an extra guest: my girlfriend, because I wouldn't want her to miss that [laughs].
SL: Do you have any tips for budding chefs?
ED: Yes, follow your own intuition and create your own style of cooking or product. There is always something new to be done that would make people happy and interested.
SL: You were a participant on Bravo’s Chef Academy. How was it working with a world-renowned chef such as Jean-Christophe Novelli?
ED: It was an amazing and unforgettable experience. At first, he was very tough on us and then we got to know each other and really see and learn his passion for cooking. Then we became very good friends. And I will thank him forever for inspiring me to become a chef. He is my mentor and a great man.
SL: Who are some of the most interesting people you’ve had the pleasure of working with thus far in your career?
ED: I worked with French chef Alain Giraud in Los Angeles and I learned a lot from him. He is a very passionate chef and has lots of experience. He just opened Maison Giraud in Pacific Palisades. I spent time with his pastry chef, Noubar, who is one of the most talented pastry chefs in Los Angeles. Last year I judged a chocolate event with Adam Gertler from Food Network. I learned a lot as far as hosting an event and keeping it entertaining and fun while you learn about food. Also, I shot a movie with Julia-Louis Dreyfus in her new comedy Picture Paris. I play a French chef and teach her class— Not a big stretch for me [laughs]. I learned a lot about comedy expressions and timing by shooting this scene with her. She is very talented, and it was an honor for me to be in her movie. It's going be on HBO this fall.
SL: What’s something about yourself you would like everyone to know?
ED: I live my life trying to find the right balance between work and pleasure. It’s very personal and you should find your own. Our lives are very precious. Why not make the best of it for us to be happy and successful in whatever we do? That's the key of successful living [smiles].