The Occitan language has been in existence since medieval times, and does not have a more fervent ambassador than Christian Constant. Renowned for having transported the South West region to Paris, Chef Constant has retained his Montauban accent and symbolises everything that represents this gastronomic region. Rue Saint-Dominique in the capital’s 7th neighbourhood has become his not-so-secret garden; after planting his Parisian roots at N° 135 with the Michelin-starred restaurant Le Violon d’Ingres, he went on to open Les Cocottes just next door and the Café Constant at N° 139. His distinctive voice has often been heard repeating his leitmotif: “never forget your roots”, and the flourishing of his fourth restaurant, Le Bibent, on the Place du Capitole in Toulouse is a testimony to this belief.
Known in the profession as “Monsieur Constant”, Christian’s reputation precedes him: he was the undisputed maestro at Le Crillon on the Place de la Concorde in Paris for 7 years before going on to conduct his own orchestra with the opening of Le Violon in 1996. “Popular dishes with more than a hint of sophistication” would be a good way of describing the timeless menus elaborated by this sure-handed chef. Authenticity guaranteed, his philosophy of staying true to himself and ensuring his clients quite simply ‘eat well’ is aptly demonstrated in his choice of high quality produce, and he is often overheard explaining “I prefer to focus on a product’s origins rather than originality for originality’s sake ”.
The future is always a construction of one’s past experiences, carefully combined with the present. Christian Constant is considered by many to have been an extraordinary ‘father figure’ in the kitchen and has worked with a heady constellation of culinary talents: Eric Frechon (3 Michelin stars), Emmanuel Renaut (3 stars), Jean-François Rouquette (1 star), Christian Etchebest Yves Camdeborde, Thierry Faucher, Thierry Breton, the list goes on. Earlier in 2018, the Michelin Guide awarded him with the first ever European Chef Mentor prize, in tribute to his constant work in training so many great Chefs.
As a young boy, Christian Constant dreamed about going to the top of the Eiffel Tower. These days, he waves a fond salute to the Iron Lady every evening from the entrance to one of his three restaurants on the rue Saint-Dominique. Watch this space for the next chapter in the story to come...