Chef Philip Tessier began his training in the kitchen at a young age, scouring the local library’s cookbooks for exotic new recipes. What began as curiosity quickly flourished into a ravenous passion, both to learn new techniques and to taste new things. Soon he was making dishes like feijoada with pigs’ feet – pretty exotic (not to mention ambitious) fare for a tween in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Chef Tessier’s passion led him to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY and after graduation, to seek out the best kitchens of France, New York and California to hone his craft. Over the course of three decades, Tessier worked at some of the world’s most renowned restaurants including Roger Verge’s Le Moulin de Mougins, Eric Ripert’s Le Bernadin, as well as Thomas Keller’s Per Se, Bouchon and The French Laundry (TFL). It was at TFL that Tessier began to train for the pinnacle of culinary achievement, the Olympics of the food world: the Bocuse d’Or.
Training for such an acclaimed event was no simple task. It required countless hours of developing, testing and fine tuning recipes, not to mention coordinating the most minute details right down to the design of spoons and service ware. But Chef’s hard work paid off when, in 2015, he won the Bocuse d’Or Silver Medal, becoming the first American to mount the podium. Two years later, Tessier coached team USA led by Chef Matthew Peters to take Gold.
Chef Tessier embarked on his journey to elevate American culinary excellence on the global stage with the Bocuse d’Or. Today he continues this endeavor in the home kitchen with Hestan Cue. As Chef Tessier says, “We live in a culinary renaissance, where cooking has reclaimed its status as an art and there’s more high-quality products widely available than ever before, as well as the producers, artisans, and chefs to champion them. But at the same time we cook at home less than ever before.”
Accreditations aside, who is the man behind the stove? Chef Philip Tessier explains how he got started in the kitchen, what he’s learned in the course of his career, and how all of these experiences have combined to develop Hestan Cue, bringing you decades’ worth of professional kitchen experience with the touch of a button.
Hestan Cue: When was the first time you remember falling in love with food/cooking? Your first passionate food memory?
Philip Tessier: My earliest cooking memory was when my mom would take us to the library and let us pick any cookbook we wanted from the shelves. We would go home and choose recipes for a special dinner that we would then make together for the family. I think my parents knew something was different when I was picking strawberry trifle and pierogis while my brother was making pizza bagels and s’mores.
HC: What was your most challenging culinary moment/experience in your career?
PT: I don’t think anything can hold a candle to what it takes to compete in the Bocuse d’Or. So much goes into it from every angle–developing the food, logistics, timing, presentation, mentoring, teamwork. It’s a full package that challenges every aspect of what it takes to be a chef.
HC: What do you love most about being a chef?
PT: The opportunity to teach. It’s a major reason that I joined the Hestan Cue team. I wanted to use everything that I have learned in my career to get people to share this passion for cooking without any of the hesitation or fear of failure that holds people back. This technology allows us to do just that.
HC: Why do you think it’s important to know how to cook? To revive the culture and traditions of home cooking?
PT: Food is culture. It has been exciting to see the rise of great restaurants in this country but it is sad to see that it seems to be coming at the cost of cooking in the home. Learning how to cook isn’t just about nutrition and day to day living, it is about community and culture and the importance of passing this on to the generations behind us.
HC: What is your advice to the food enthusiast who wants to step it up a notch but is perhaps nervous/reluctant to dive into the kitchen?
PT: Aside from getting the Hestan Cue? Be patient, enjoy the process and don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Often the mistakes are where you learn the most!
To hear more from our head chef and learn about his journey chasing the Bocuse gold, stay tuned for his soon-to-be-published book—Chasing Bocuse, a behind-the-scenes look at America’s rise to the culinary world stage.