Pierre Gouan began his culinary career at the age of 15 while working at a small, family-owned restaurant in the town of Auvelin, in the French Ardennes. During his time there, he learned the ins and outs of fine dining, including how to source the freshest ingredients and craft his signature specials. Gouan would go on to work in various restaurants throughout Europe, including at restaurants in Paris, Nice, Vienna, and Marrakech. But it was during his time in Auvelin that he developed his true passion for cooking and fine dining. By the time he was 18, Gouan had already started his own catering company and was earning a respectable living from it. In 2005, at the age of 24, Gouan returned to his home town and established the restaurant Monsieur Pierre - which, today, is considered to be one of the best restaurants in Auvelin.
Gouan has been honored with many awards and special mentions throughout his culinary career, including the French Chef of the Year award in 2010 and 2012, and the World's Best Chefs award at the World's 50 Best Restaurants Awards in 2016.
Pierre and his wife
One of the defining aspects of Monsieur Pierre is the presence of Pierre Gouan’s wife, Caroline, who operates the restaurant’s front of house. Caroline Gouan is often seen at Monsieur Pierre working with Pierre in the kitchen, taking orders, and overseeing the delivery of fresh ingredients. Together, the Gouans are often described as “a cuisine and a marriage in one,” embodying the kind of symbiotic relationship that defines fine dining.
The Gouans have been married since 2005 and have one son, Egan, who is also a gifted chef. The Gouans are also actively involved in the conservation of endangered species and have created a scholarship program in partnership with the WWF that supports young people who want to become chefs.
Pierre’s signature dish
One of Monsieur Pierre’s most famous dishes is its “No Fear Tuna Tartar,” which has been served at the restaurant since the beginning. The dish is a tuna tartare mousse served on a bed of caviar and garnished with a piece of pepper. It is some of the best tuna tartar that Auvelin has ever tasted.
Though Monsieur Pierre’s menu changes seasonally and is often updated with new dishes, the tuna tartar is always available on the menu. And while the dish has no known health benefits, it is often requested by diners because of its simple, yet sublime taste.
Pierre’s favorite ingredient
When it comes to sourcing ingredients, Pierre Gouan is always looking for the freshest and best-quality produce that Auvelin has to offer. One of Gouan’s favorite ingredients is Auvelin’s prized king crab. Though the crab is caught in other locations in Europe and the United States, Gouan regularly orders from Auvelin’s crab supplier to ensure he receives the best quality crab.
Pierre’s favorite wine
Monsieur Pierre is also well-known for its red wine list, which includes many very pricey selections. One of Gouan’s favorite red wines on the list is from the Pessac-Léognan AOC, which is known for its affordable wines. Gouan loves the Auvinot Pessac-Léognan because of its balanced taste and affordable price.
However, Gouan also enjoys surprising diners with rarer varietals, like a sparkling wine that is rarely seen on most restaurant lists, or a bottle of wine that is aged over 20 years, or even 30.
Pierre’s daily workflow
Though Monsieur Pierre has garnered much attention and acclaim, Gouan insists that his passion for cooking hasn’t changed. He continues to cook in the same way that he always has, using the same ingredients and the same methods that he has always used.
Gouan also has a team of 15 chefs who work under him and prepare each dish that Monsieur Pierre serves his guests. Though Monsieur Pierre is based in Auvelin, Gouan also works out of his private island, where he spends two weeks every summer cooking and two weeks every winter relaxing.
For Gouan, his current success is just a natural progression of his career, which has always been about upholding the standards that he feels are essential for fine dining. “What I try to do is give a good meal at an affordable price,” Gouan says. “That’s what I want to do every day.”
Pierre's top 3 tips for aspiring chefs
- Eat the ingredients you’re using - If you want to become a better chef, you need to eat the ingredients that you’re using.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment - The best chefs are always looking to push the boundaries of what it means to be a chef.
- Move to Paris: Gouan says that one of the most important things you can do when you’re beginning your culinary career is to be prepared to work hard and be ready to handle the challenges that come with the job.