This Michelin-star chef reveals the food that inspires him.
Q How did your childhood influence your choice of career?
A I come from the Sarthe region [about 200 kilometres south-west of Paris]. I spent my weekends and holidays on the farm with my uncle and my grandmother, sampling the food grown, discovering the scents of vegetables from the kitchen garden, the fragrance of fruit from the orchard.
Q What is your favourite dish at Les Crayeres? [Mille's restaurant in Reims].
A Le diamant noir, Millefeuille de poulette de Bresse laque au foie gras [Black Diamond, a millefeuille of lacquered spring chicken from Bresse with foie gras]. It is the dish I presented in the Bocuse d'Or [world chef championship] competition in 2009 where I won the Bocuse bronze medal.
Q Your career highlights?
A An experience like the Bocuse d'Or is a unique and exciting moment. It was the same sensation when I became MOF: Meilleur Ouvrier de France, the highest award for a French craftsman.
Q Your favourite food destination?
A Japan for the precision and the rigour of its cooking. The second is Italy. The cooking is close to the French style. They always try to suit products.
Q What is in your hand luggage?
A I always have a book. For the moment, it is a French book L'appel de l'ange [Call from an Angel] by Guillaume Musso.
Q Most underrated country for food?
A La Champagne, of course. Our French area is wrongly famous only for champagne houses. Not many people know our regional products are special, such as crawfish, saffron, grey shallot ... it is a part of my daily job to give them a showcase through my cooking.
Q Your ideal condiment?
A Vinegar. It is important for me because it can revive a dish by giving it a real profundity.
Philippe Mille will cook a Belle Epoque dinner, September 11, at Sofitel Sydney Wentworth. Tickets $175 each. An exhibition of prints, posters and photography from Champagne is on display at Sofitel Sydney Wentworth until September 30; Sofitel Melbourne on Collins from September 12-October 8. See sofitelsydney.com.au.