Executive Chef at La Table du Connétable at Auberge du Jeu de Paume, Chantilly
Clément Leroy had an ideal upbringing to enter the French culinary world. His father was a butcher who also owned a delicatessen with a catering service, his grandmother was a longtime cook for a French family, and his relatives owned farms and vegetable gardens.
At 15 years old he apprenticed at a restaurant in a small country village and at 18 caught a lucky early break: he was hired by Michelin-star Chef Guy Savoy in Paris followed by stints at Laurent and Le Taillevent.
He returned to Guy Savoy at age 21 but left again to work in Provence under Chef Michel Chabran who had two Michelin stars at his country hotel and restaurant.
Paris and Guy Savoy came calling again and Leroy climbed the ladder to success rapidly. Subsequently he assisted in opening L’Atelier Mâitre Albert, a more casual Guy Savoy bistro, and the three-star Troyon restaurant where he was Savoy’s right hand man. The culmination of his tenure at Guy Savoy was head chef at L’Étoile sur Mer, which received a Michelin star within six months of opening.
Last July Leroy was hired by Auberge du Jeu de Paume, a five-star Relais & Châteaux hotel in Chantilly as the executive chef at La Table du Connétable (4 rue du Connétable, Chantilly, France. Tel: +33-3446-55005.) He took over from chef Arnaud Faye, who was awarded two Michelin stars.
You were born in a small city in southwestern France. What were some of the specialty foods you grew up with from the region?
I was born in a small city in the Rhônevalley, famous for its great wine and a region full of fruits such as peaches, apricots, and cherries, so you could feel each season when you saw the flowers and fruits of different trees.
You spent most of your career working with Chef Guy Savoy. When did you first start working for him and why did he choose you?
I first started to work for Guy Savoy in 1998. He had no positions available but he hired me only because we are from the same part of France!!!
What were some of the various positions you held at Guy Savoy?
I started as a trainee, then a specialty chef, sous-chef, and finally an executive chef.
You helped opened restaurants in other locations for Guy Savoy. How did each of those restaurants differ and what were some of the cultural challenges?
I took care of his openings in Doha, Singapore, and Las Vegas. It was a good chance to see different cultures and to discover new ingredients and new techniques. With each experience the locals had good motivation to work for a French chef, which was great.
You recently came to La Table du Connétable at the Auberge du Jeu de Paume. The former chef earned two Michelin stars. What is it like to step into his shoes and what will it be like to have to maintain the two stars?
I joined Auberge du Jeu de Paume and La Table du Connétable to make my best food. My objective is that every customer leaves with a smile after having experienced my food. I just make what I like.
Have you made changes since you started at Le Connétable?
We started to make homemade butter and serve cheese with local honey from the Domaine de Chantilly. Within the next month we are starting to make our own signature bread with a special flour mixture.
What are your favorite ingredients and foods you are using now?
I like oysters and we just started to make Oyster pot au feu style using a really special type of oyster from the Mediterranean.
What are the most exciting dishes on your current menu?
It’s difficult to choose one, but actually I’d like to talk about ‘Bœuf à la ficelle comme l’aimait mon père’ (beef for the love of my father). The dish is an ode to my father who was a butcher. I come to the table to explain the dish and finish the plate, using beef from one of my best friends Alexandre Polmard, so this dish comes from my heart.