INTERVIEW – The 28-year-old chef has left the M6 food competition after one very good last chance.
Lilian Douchet marked “Top Chef” season 13 with her strong personal story. The young man was supposed to open his restaurant when Covid broke out. His project failed, he reconverted himself … into mass distribution. After two years without cooking, it is therefore under the hat of hypermarket manager that the young man competed in the show. However, her culinary curriculum is full of experiences in many starred places. He was notably sous-chef at La Truffière and L’Orangerie. The culinary competition M6 therefore represented a possible rebirth for him. Eliminated after one last pear-themed high-level chance, he rethinks his adventure.
TV MAGAZINE. – How did you react during your elimination?
Lilian DOUCHET. – Obviously I was very sad because I wanted to win the “Top Chef”. Although I haven’t cooked in two years, I think I’ve had the level to go all the way. I was also sad for Paul Pairet who trusted me from the start.
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What did you miss on this last occasion, defined by the chefs as “the best of the season”?
I think I took five minutes to caramelize my tuile and cook my pears more so they melt more. It’s nice to start on the best last chance of the season, but that doesn’t soften anything. I was sad to leave the contest.
How did the two previous tests go?
I am a modest person who struggles to indulge his emotions, so the first test was very strong, just talking about my pneumothorax. I was disappointed not to win. For the second I was even sadder because I think I should have qualified. My tuile was ultra crunchy at the base but he got soggy during the waiting time …
You left the competition for personal reasons and returned to the competition thanks to the elimination round. How did you experience it?
It was a great time! I absolutely wanted to win this event because I wanted to go back to chef Paul Pairet. To me it was him and no one else. So I put myself in “warrior” mode. I was relieved to return to the competition as it was excruciating to have to leave but I had no choice. I managed to get back into my boss’s brigade, it was great!
What connection do you have with him?
We were very close during the shoot and I hope we will remain because he is someone I adore. After I was eliminated, we talked for thirty minutes. He told me he could help me out if I wanted a job. He did a lot to get me back to the kitchen.
And with the candidates?
I am still in contact with many of them. Arnaud has in particular become a true friend. I admit that with all my current projects, I struggle to call them. I hope we can meet for a good meal to talk about the memories of the shoot.
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What’s your best memory? What’s the worst?
The best memory is my first solo event where I presented the Japanese kakigori style shrimp lollipop. It was a dish that looks 100% like me with an avant-garde and conceptual side and that is in the wake of what I would like to offer in my future gastronomic restaurant. So it was a big challenge because I was wondering if I could make it. I was super happy to win. The worst moment is the restaurant war and the inability to open. We worked for two days, it was really cruel… The other bad memory will remain my elimination.
Why did you decide to become a “Top Chef”?
I was chosen. At that time I was working in a hypermarket. I told myself that maybe it was destiny and that I had to pursue my dreams. Since my childhood, I think cooking is made for me. This is why I agreed to participate. The production had already offered me to compete in previous years but I had turned it down because I didn’t think I was cut out for television. I am quite shy but in the end I found it quite enjoyable.
Could you host a TV show?
It depends what kind of program. I’m not going to be a puppet. Another channel has already offered me to participate in a reality show but I don’t care. If we ask to do a culinary report on cooking, I will do it with great pleasure.
What were you looking for in “Top Chef”?
I needed to be reassured. I was wondering if I was made for this and if I was capable of making my dreams come true. The chefs I’ve worked for have always told me I had enormous potential. The jurors also said very nice words to me. Glenn Viel told me that I was already a great chef, he left me speechless and Hélène Darroze that it was a waste for French cuisine that I have not returned to the profession. Philippe Etchebest also had very strong words. Basically, they told me to stop fooling around, take a few weeks off and do whatever it takes.
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And is that what happened?
Yes, because I just opened the Lilhome restaurant in Bordeaux with my cousin and very soon Dame Augustine in the 13th arrondissement of Paris. In these two places, I propose a bistronomic menu with short-circuit seasonal products. There are also tapas and, in Paris, a formula for afternoon tea. In a few days I will also be signing up for my gourmet restaurant in the 7th arrondissement of Paris. I will cook French cuisine there with ideas from all over the world. I don’t necessarily aim for the stars. I’ll do my best and, if that happens, fine.
You moved viewers with your story. A chef who runs a hypermarket is not common …
I knew there was going to be a second block and I didn’t want to sit down and do anything. I am a hard worker. I decided to orient myself where there was work, that is the hypermarkets. I started out as a manager of a bakery and, adapting very quickly, quickly became a manager. Finally, there is no lack of common indicators between catering and mass distribution, in particular the quality of service and customer satisfaction.
What do you remember of the experience of the “Top Chef”?
Great joys and sad moments. Emotionally, it was very difficult. We were also confined to candidates, so it wasn’t easy. But the competition gave me the urge.
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