The young 23-year-old chef takes the reins of the Haute-Serre restaurant. Here, he intends to use his experience in Objectif Top Chef but also at Georges Blanc and Michel Guérard.
From the Lot, he knew lamb, truffles and good wine but he had never set foot there. It is now done. From this Monday, Habib Aifa, takes the stove of the table of Haute-Serre, in Cieurac. The establishment of the Vigouroux family was looking for a new chef after the departure, for personal reasons, of Allan Duplouich. This Monday is the baptism of fire for Habib Aifa who had several days to familiarize himself with the kitchens. But the 23-year-old cook has seen others. “I arrived in France when I was 15, I took a CAP in Toulouse and then a two-year professional certificate. During my apprenticeship, I passed two competitions: that of best apprentice in France and Objective Top Chef” , says the one who was born and raised in Tunisia.
In the competition for best apprentice in France, he reached the final in 2018. Under the cameras of M6, he fought until the quarter-finals for his place in Top Chef. It was in 2019, he was only 18 years old when he gave Philippe Etchebest a taste of his red mullet in potato scales, “a classic that was obviously well executed which allowed me to take the next step: the ham butter pickle sandwich revisited”. Again, Chief Etchebest approves. A fillet of beef later and here he is at the gates of Top Chef. Too bad, his mushroom trompe-l’oeil will not qualify him for the rest of the show.
“The chef is impressive at first glance. Let’s say, the first day. But he is also very human. Off camera, I made him taste one of my preparations, he was on the phone, interrupted and told me said thank you very much,” he recalls. After Objectif Top Chef, Habib cut his teeth at Georges Blanc, in Vonnas in Ain. A small line on the CV that says a lot. He was a clerk for four months then became chef de partie. On the land of his idol Paul Bocuse, Habib has his head full of dreams and puts his heart into his plate. He finally took the direction of the Landes and the kitchens of the Guérard house in Eugénie-les-Bains. One more line that weighs in his CV.
His mother’s “exceptional” veal tongue
The doors open wide: the young cook reaches third place in the Young Talents Escoffier competition. Here he is then in Carcassonne, at the Château de Flours where he now wants to take the reins. “I understood that I was capable, that I wanted to express my way of seeing and cooking, to do something that came close to the truth,” he says. This is when Christine Vigouroux offers him the job at the Haute-Serre table. “I joined with the epicurean state of mind of the house, the ambition”, he slips. “Our project is to push with him the concept of the winegrower’s table by emphasizing conviviality and sharing, we can imagine dishes to share rather than a service on the plate for example and the use of rotisserie for a good Sunday family chicken”, slips Christine Vigouroux.
Habib has a taste for good French cuisine: pot-au-feu, stew, cassoulet, pies… His mother also, according to him, makes an “exceptional veal tongue”. And the dishes to share, everyone knows it: “I ate couscous with my family in the same dish countless times”. From his first culinary creations when he was a kid, mayonnaise and fruit salad with olive oil, he now moves on to saddle of Quercy lamb with black and white garlic or chicken and beggar pie. A winning and tasty equation.