Nicolas Galibert, chef and owner of the restaurant l'Echauguette, which has become an institution in the Tarn, welcomes us to his table to tell us his story and that of this authentic place which has been delighting taste buds for several generations. We salivate just to hear him talk about gastronomy!
Much more than a history of terroir
Chef Nicolas has been at the helm of L'Échauguette for almost ten years and has known the establishment since before he arrived; it has always been the locals' HQ.
L'Echauguette has been in existence since 1974, before which it was a hotel and inn. The historical owners of the restaurant, Mr and Mrs Canonica, are extremely professional and generous people. I wanted to come back to this traditional establishment which has made its regional reputation thanks to its classic and traditional cuisine. The one that makes me dream while being the basis of my training. So I took up this concept and these values to which I am attached. Here, we cook sweetbreads, foie gras, duck breast and ceps.
"I'm a local, I've lived in the Tarn for over twenty years and I've always heard a lot about this restaurant. The day the owners I knew offered to take it over, I couldn't say no. I took it as a gift. I took it as a gift."
A goodwill exchange with Mother Nature
In his restaurant, a real workshop for creating tastes, Nicolas likes to welcome young cooks with whom he evolves towards a more contemporary cuisine.
I like to offer vegan or vegetarian dishes on the menu. This corresponds to the customer's demand, the young people have good ideas and mediate on this by bringing their own vision. I am a lover of vegetables and yet I belong to a generation where meat was systematically present at every meal. I am very sensitive to the animal cause and to the respect of living beings, so I listen to these vegetarian and vegan movements, it is an ecological and social necessity. However, I remain a gourmet, in love with good products, I do not intend to deprive myself of Pyrenean lamb or Aubrac cows, animals raised in good conditions. I am not a great chef, but a good cook who knows his basics and who cooks in a spirit of sharing and generosity.
One vegetable away…
By favouring short circuits and local producers, Nicolas has all the cards in hand to offer locavores a tasty cuisine that is 100% local. "I love going to the market, I try to use only local vegetables in my kitchen. At the same time, I work with a nursery and a market gardener from the Tarn. What interests me in cooking is balance, finesse and elegance. My favourite dish, which is my identity, is the pan-fried vegetables. Always made at the last minute, I peel the vegetables, fry them, assemble them and correct the seasonings for a crunchy, colourful, fresh and easily digestible result. This one varies according to my moods and the seasons."
As with each service, Nicolas is happy to come and take a look around the room to get a word or phrase from each of his guests. These are the bits of stories that make him tick and make him come alive, and which are particularly important to him. The taste for learning, the taste for others, the taste for generosity, these are remarkable chefs and great teams with whom Nicolas has made his mark, who have passed on to him. Born in Agen and a cook since the age of 16, he travelled around before putting down his knives in the Tarn: Pyrenees, Basque Coast, Atlantic Coast, French Riviera, Alps... Seasons and top-of-the-range restaurants followed one another before the Tarn region welcomed this chef for whom receiving gives meaning to life.