Three-starred chef at the head of Caprice in Hong Kong, Guillaume Galliot is also a huge football and Paris Saint-Germain fan. And football pays him back. Ezequiel Lavezzi has his napkin ring at home. Marco Verratti even entrusted him with the kitchens for his wedding. Meeting with a man who knows how to please.
Interview by Arthur Jeanne
I make French cuisine, but given that I’ve been in Asia for 18 years, it’s a cuisine that is mixed with small Asian influences. The techniques and products that I use are those of French cuisine and I play a little with the combinations, certain additions of citrus fruits or small lemongrass broths for example, which will give an Asian twist to traditional French gastronomy. This Asian touch, it is natural, it is never forced. I never say to myself, I will add yuzu so that it smells like Japan. It’s not me at all.
How did you become a three-star chef in Hong Kong? What was your course ?
I started as an apprentice in a one-star restaurant in Tours, where I come from. Then I trained in Montpellier at the Jardin des Sens with Jacques and Laurent Pourcel. This is where I discovered the 3 Michelin star level. I spent a year and a half in the South, I followed them to Paris when they opened the White House. Then I went to Saint Barthélémy for a year before flying to Asia.
“Some people will do 3 stars for a few years, then say to themselves, in fact, it’s not made for me, I’ll settle down and do something a little calmer. »
Going through a 3-star restaurant when you’re a young cook is like going through the training center of a big club when you’re a player?
Honestly, that’s totally it. We learn the technical bases, the requirement, the discipline, the management of the pressure. When I arrive at the Pourcel brothers, there are 30 people in the kitchen. It moves at full speed, there is a big nervousness, pressure. It was a new world. A world that I adored and in which I wanted to stay. For that, you have to have talent, be passionate and give your all to have a good career. Some people will do 3 stars for a few years, then say to themselves, in fact, it’s not for me, I’ll settle down and do something a little calmer. Me, once I had tasted that, I had the desire and the ambition to stay in that world, the high-end world.
What is your personal history with football?
I played for a few years in a club when I was a kid in Tours, from about 8 to 12 years old. Then I did ice hockey. But when you start learning around 15 or 16, you no longer have time to play sports in a club. On the other hand, I have been passionate about football since I was a kid. I am a huge PSG fan.
Who are the PSG players who have marked you?
Djorkaeff during his year in Paris, he was magical. He only had one season in 1995-1996, when we won the European Cup. He is a player that I liked a lot, I was sad when he left. Then I left France in 2002, but I continued to watch all the matches. It was the Ronaldinho era, I loved it too, even if we often spent matches tearing our hair out. The 3-0 against Marseille, it remains an unforgettable memory. Especially since in Saint-Bart, I shared my room with a Marseillais. (Laughs.) And then recently, the time of the beginnings of Pastore and Zlatan really pleased me. It’s a totally different era, but I enjoyed it.
“I watch almost all PSG matches. When it’s the Champions League matches, I set the alarm clock at 4 a.m. »
With the jet lag, do you manage to see the matches?
I watch almost all PSG matches. When it’s the Champions League matches, I set the alarm clock at 4 a.m. When I was younger, I didn’t go to bed, for 3 or 4 years, I go to bed and set the alarm clock. Then at the end of the match, I go back to sleep for a few hours. Afterwards, what is perfect are the Ligue 1 matches, on Saturdays at 5 p.m. It’s blessed bread for me. It’s 11pm or midnight in Hong Kong, I’ve just finished my shift, I’m taking a shower, I open a small beer and I settle on the sofa. It’s the perfect Saturday night.
Do you go to the park sometimes?
Every time I return to France I go there, I even make sure to organize my returns according to the matches. Often, when we play in the Champions League on Wednesday, I manage to arrive on Tuesday morning. On Wednesday evening, I go to the stadium. I take the Thursday noon flight and arrive in Hong Kong on Friday morning. That only gives me three days off. I go there with two or three friends, often in boxes. When I was younger, I was sometimes on the Boulogne side, sometimes at Auteuil, but often on bends.
A 3-star chef, when he goes to the stadium, is he allowed to eat a merguez sandwich?
Of course, it is even a compulsory passage. When I go to the Park, I love it. We drink two or three beers at 3 Obus, a merguez sandwich and we go to the game. At the end of the game, we sometimes go to the Cardinal after the game to have a rib steak.
“Volver’s boss sometimes went to the Camp des Loges with his parrilla to prepare an asado and grill the meat for Pastore, Pocho and company. »
Has your job allowed you to meet a lot of footballers?
Yes, I have met quite a few as clients. But given that it is a profession of food, of passion, we quickly get along very well with our customers. These are worlds that go well together. Players like to have fun, go out, eat well, drink well. And then a lot of chefs are big football fans. When Ezequiel Lavezzi arrived in China, one of our mutual friends advised him to come to my house. We became friends and for 5 years, we see each other two or three times a year. He is a fan of cooking, of good wine. Frankly, he has a good palate, Pocho.
Some footballers are gastronomy freaks, aesthetes?
Marco Verratti, he likes good food, good pastries. He is a guy who knows well and knows how to eat well. His restaurant, Giuse trattoria, in Paris is delicious. You eat wonderful products there. Last year, we celebrated his victory at the Euro there. There was Pocho too.
You have already made a asado with Ezequiel Lavezzi?
No, the time we were supposed to do one was in Beijing and it was raining outside. No luck, while he had a super parilla at home, we couldn’t use it. But for the asados in Paris, there is a great Argentinian restaurant where they all go, Volver. The boss even told me that from time to time, after Paris Saint-Germain training, he went to the Camp des Loges with his parilla to prepare a asado and grill the meat for Pastore, Pocho and company.
What’s Pocho’s cute sin?
Italian food. He adores her. He’s a big pasta fan. I know that in Beijing he had his private chef. An Italian who made exceptional pasta. A very strong guy, but beyond that, Pocho is an epicurean, someone who likes to discover, who is easily accessible. When we prepare something for him, he asks a lot of questions: “What else did you put in this dish, because I can’t taste the vinegar?” » He is very interested. He cooks a little too.
You also became close to Marco Verratti, you even cooked for his wedding.
Marco, I met him through Pocho. When we spoke for the first time, it was as if we had met before. The fact that I am a football fan and he is a good cook, it quickly matched. And so I made two dishes for her wedding. I prepared a typical Singaporean dish called laksa. It’s a bowl of noodles with cashew nuts, lemongrass, ginger that I revisited in French sauce with a nice emulsion and lobster. And then we made a nice little entrance. Caviar crab salad with shellfish jelly. A classic. On the drink side, it was an Italian wedding, so we drank Sassicaia (a great Tuscan wine).
“It would be my pleasure to cook for Del Piero. I would serve him the langoustine worked with strawberries that I am preparing at the moment. Or otherwise one of my signature dishes: potatoes, caviar, champagne sauce. »
Which footballer would you like to cook for?
I met Zlatan at Marco Verratti’s wedding, I would like to receive him. I’m also a big fan of Alessandro Del Piero. I like Juventus a lot and I sometimes went to see matches. The last time was to be in 2006, at the Stadio Delle Alpi. I saw that Del Piero has restaurants in the USA. It would be my pleasure to cook for him. I would serve him the langoustine worked with strawberries that I am preparing at the moment. Or otherwise one of my signature dishes: potatoes, caviar, champagne sauce. That’s a dish that throws. It’s generosity, wealth, gluttony, it’s very French as a dish. We don’t want it to end.
Would you trade one of your stars for a Champions League?
(Laughs.) It’s a very difficult choice. It’s daily work, a lot of training to get there. I would prefer to keep my third star and win a Champions League. Every year, I’m hot, I believe in it. (Laughs.) However, I was at the Parc des Princes for the match against Manchester United which we lost 3-1. I hope that in the next two or three years, we will do it.
In Hong Kong, is there a football culture? Do you sometimes go to see matches in bars?
Hong Kong is more finance than football! Difficult to find a bar that broadcasts the matches. I prefer to watch them at home, I have my little one setup at home. I take all the possible packages and all the channels that broadcast football so as not to miss anything. Because streaming is out of the question. It’s jumping, it’s late…
“I have Dorian Lévêque’s jersey with which he won the 2014 Coupe de France final.”
Apart from Paris Saint-Germain, what are your biggest football emotions?
The 1998 and 2018 World Cups did something to me… In 1998, I was learning in Tours, I watched all the matches in a bar with the group of friends I grew up with . I was 17, it was an exceptional moment. And Euro 2000, great moment too. For the final, I was at Place de la Comédie in Montpellier. Like everyone else, I thought it was dead. Equalization, it’s starting to jostle everywhere. Purpose of Trezeguet: the tables, the chairs, the beers flying around the Place de la Comédie. I’ve never seen that. An incredible moment.
With the footballers you know, you must have a nice collection of jerseys?
In fact, I have quite a bit. Pocho gave me his PSG and Argentina jerseys. I also have that of Mascherano with Argentina, that of Falcao in Monaco that Ludovic Giuly, another friend, gave me. I have a Del Piero who is magnificent with the former sponsor. Finally, I have a friend who played for Guingamp in Ligue 1. Dorian Lévêque, a left-back, a super nice guy. I know him through a friend who attended the Annecy training center with him. I have the shirt with which he won the 2014 Coupe de France final.
Interview by Arthur Jeanne