If he likes to take up challenges, like this new restaurant he has just opened in Bordeaux, it is because Philippe Etchebest has had at his side for almost thirty years a woman who tempers him as much as she galvanizes him: hers.
In Bordeaux, in the former Faubourg des Chartrons, the dark red facade, elegant and discreet, blends into the decor of this historic stronghold of wine merchants. New House is the new restaurant opened by chef Philippe Etchebest and his wife, Dominique. Here, no frills, no reference to the cooking shows that made the M6 chef famous, no name in gold letters at the top of the poster. Back to the source, to the kitchen.
The man has always said that TV was just a “recreation” for him, which he would stop of his own free will. Or not. Even if he knows what he owes to the media coverage. Shaved head, third line stature (in rugby, he nevertheless played three-quarter wing), verb as flowery as the beard, Philippe Etchebest has become in a few years the most popular loudmouth on the small screen. M6, which has requested it more and more, was not mistaken. He is the “Chabal of the stoves”. His South-West accent has the value of eating well, of living well, and his paws, which often hammer the subject by hitting the worktop, as he hits the cymbals of his drums by taking up AC/DC tubes or of Iron Maiden, tell of the man’s solidity.
But if the dough is hard, the heart is runny. Especially when it comes to evoking the one who was then the butcher’s daughter and who caught his eye when he was still in his twenties. ” I brought you candy “, said Jacques Brel to his Germaine. Philippe brings a bouquet of chocolate roses to his Dominique. And it’s been twenty-seven years that it lasts between these two. Twenty-seven years she maintains harmony between the safety of the “etche” (“house” in Basque) and the challenges of the “best” (“new” in Basque). Balance is her. ” My wife is always by my side, he said the day after confinement, on Europe 1. Beyond supporting me, she really accompanies me in this fight in a very intense way and I thank her very much. And I take this opportunity to tell him that I love him. »
Beyond the cathodic loudmouth, it is this tender heart, capable of defying its atavistic modesty to let out a “I love you” on the airwaves, that the French have been acclaimed since 2015, over the years. Nightmare in the kitchen, Top Chef and others Top Chef objective. It’s this little boy who, as soon as he finished school, went home to help out his restaurateur father more to share something with this quiet guy than out of a real love of cooking. This kid stirring, but already perfectionist and competitor.
Philippe Etchebest did not have the vocation of the stoves, he said, he would have chosen the easy way. The gastronomic critic Gilles Pudlowski, who knew him as a child (he was 23), does not believe a word of it as he remembers a passionate boy and, a rare thing, as gifted for sweet as for salty. However Etchebest persists. Claims to have even seriously hesitated between the hotel school and the sport of rugby studies, he who shone with the Bègles team, exalted by the values of solidarity, mutual aid and camaraderie of the oval. ” I wasn’t afraid to put my head, he said. I always put on a big tampon from the start. Stop being a little late. We had to mark the field so that the player opposite no longer wanted to come back. He rushes into the crowd.
This more than particular art of approach, which he no doubt owes to a rough upbringing by an authoritarian father who had neither tender gesture nor sweet word, he will keep it. Will even know how to make it a strength. But will however need to find an escape. Boxing will be an outlet for him for a time. During an interview in 2014, he summed up his career as follows: I always say that I owe my stars to rugby, that is to say to team spirit, to collective motivation. My title of Meilleur Ouvrier de France, in 2000, I owe it in part to boxing: in the kitchen, you are like in a ring. I have the same conditioning, same state of mind. »
But it is above all his wife, his luck. Philippe and Dominique are a “power couple”. Of those who go through the stages together, without letting go of each other’s hands. Whether they are professional (it is with her that he wins his stars, with her also that he refines his media-savvy character) or personal, like this patient and sometimes painful road to adoption. Married in 1998, it was only in 2005, after five years of waiting, that the couple was finally able to hug a little boy born in Mexico, Louis-Oscar. With him, Philippe Etchebest stands out from the family pattern and invents himself in attentive, demonstrative, cuddly father. Seeking to transmit to him more than a know-how, a know-how. Just as he knows how to be a reassuring husband, “not macho”, who considers his wife as an equal, (always) takes her point of view into account… And when it happens that enamored and sometimes aggressive fans, go so far as to call the restaurant to try to join her celebrity husband, Dominique is content to hang up, serene. With Philippe, their “etche” is solid.
Photo credits: Best Image