Regis Cursan Nobu Uk Executive Pastry chef
I first meet Regis in Nobu Park Lane. A very tall pastry executive head chef with a sense of awe surrounding him. Regis appeared very gigantic and the french stripes on his collar definitely deserves respect.
I was always very aware of his presence and of course always observant of the work that was being created in the pastry section at the time I was working in Nobu. This is purely because there was far more to learn from that section then the normal chef sections. I was already fully aware at that time that pastry techniques are that which propelled new innovative revolutions and possibility’s in cuisine. If we see all techniques irregardless of pastry or savoury without prejudice, we can potentially evolve to infinite possibilities!
After getting to know Regis and his family a bit better, the giant of awe revealed a very gentle and humorous side.
He is a very intelligent and interesting person, he is funny and he has a very unique way of how his minde works, of how he sees things that truly stimulate fantastical concepts and creations. I always feel it is the way you are as a person and the way you see the life that makes the difference and ultimately is responsible for making you an artist or not. Additionally he has a very big technical vocabulary and knowledge to enable him to execute his creations and visions to perfection.
Born in 1974 Regis made his first appearance in a professional kitchen at the age of 17. Inspired as a child from his Grand mother, Regis seized every opportunity to learn at her side. His formal pastry education completed ,he served 14 months the French army in Guyana where he developed an interest for “exotic” fruits and vegetables ,spending his time off in the forest with farmers.
Back in France he carries on perfecting his craft and skills in different shops and restaurants. Moving to London in 1999 he worked in Patisserie Valerie for several years, punctuating with stages in France and Spain. In 2004 following the request of his long time friend Gabriele Riva he joined Nobu in Park lane, 2 years later he was offered the position of Executive Pastry chef for the group in the UK.
Regis is also a well know Mudlark scouring the river Thames for ancient artefacts. (see below this article)
I recently conducted a mini interview with Regis Cursan on several subjects on chocolate, passions and ancient treasures found in the river Thames:
Who was the person that inspires you the most regarding your work and why?
Regis: As pastry chef I will named a few Oriol Balaguer,Ramon Moratto,Albert Adria and Gabriele Riva for his adventurous side Dominique Persoone.
You have been closely working with Nobu-san for a good while now. Could you tell us a little about your experience of Nobu-san and the effect of work:
Regis: Nobu-san has been spearheading the Re-evolution of that type of cuisine. If the product itself may seems dated now i think most of his dishes have now turned “classics” and his followers numerous. His influence on the cuisine added with his artistic ability and creativity, I m sure will leave their mark. Ralph Waldo Emesron said:. “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” I think that’s exactly what Nobusan did.
Wow this is a superb quote, so iconic and inspirational!
There is a huge culinary revolution coming out of south america right now with restaurants like DOM brazil/ Lima peru / BIKU Mexico etc amongst the top 50 top restaurant in the world. Nobu being a peruvian japanese fusion may this new exiting culinary dynamic from south america influence your new menu here in London NOBU?
Regis: The challenge we re facing with products straight from the Amazon or south America is they re not well know to the mainstream public making it difficult to compose dessert which will sell, even with the best front of the house staff.
Yes in London it always seems a bit more of a struggle to get people to buy into new trends and ideas. Can be frustrating at times. However London most defiantly has been finally hit by the south american food movement at last. Very cool of Nobu to have sensed this already all these years ago.
Which south american ingredient are you most exited about?
Without been a Capuchin Monkey I like, lulo, mangoosten, guanabana, zapote, and Tamarillo for its Umami content (which I discovered).
Nobu being a Peruvian Japanese fusion concept how do you incorporate the exotic fruit varieties of south america into your menu?
Regis: While living in Guyana I tried a wide range of food and after extensive experimentation with them brought me mixed results acknowledging that I wanted the product untainted. A fruit itself can be the best dessert like a ripe mango for instance. Few years back we used to serve a frozen mango cream at Nobu Sun ripped mangoes straight from brazil peeled freeze and churned with the pacojet one word:deliciosooooooo.
I believe in simplicity in my desserts but merging the Japanese with European and south American is a complex manoeuvre , resulting in a synergy who creates a total effect far beyond expectation.
What you just said hit a big cord on my piano:
For some reason COCO CHANEL sprang to my mind, she said:”I alwaystake off at least one piece of jewelry before I leave the house”.
There is a time in every chefs life before refining himself, were we tend to over clutter our dishes with unnecessary garnishes, molesting our creations with to many tweezers or overcomplicating things often making good looking dishes however the essence is not fully in harmony.
Then after this phase we feel a need to strip it all down – to find the true soul of the dish. ” If there is no reason or purpose of it, lets get rid of it” and we focus on working more specific. You could not have put it better the way you just said it: which is very profound and important but at the same time not easy.
Many Kaiseki master chefs I worked with always say that simplicity is the hardest thing. Especially now when you want to fuse to different cuisines then this is crucial and certainly a very high skill otherwise it is confusion food.
Which is your favourite chocolate you like to work with and is ethical fair traid and sustainable an important issue we need to consider?
Regis: Chocolate wise I ve been using Chocovic for 5 years the product is good, consistent and also reasonably priced , I also use the range of OB chocolate which ethically correspond to my belief.
France of course having a very vast, creative and crucial history in pastry, how do you feel about the evolution of pastry or pastry chefs in london compared to Spain who have so very avantgarde having lead the way very consistently over the years?
Regis: I think London is following a slow but steady gradual process regarding dessert. It may take a few more years but we may end up where we re heading . Parallel to the Spanish which have been the leaders for a while, due to the economic climate they even have to work harder and be constantly innovative, we in London have to find ways to develop the interest and create a durable, sustainable need for our creations.
What is your dream for the future? If you could do anything with out any restriction what would you like to see happen in the world of pastry?
Regis: On my to-do list: I would like to teach pastry and personal development linked to pastry rejuvenating the inculcation , and have a production unit to be able to produce and spread my products (Chocolate bonbon ,ice creams ,cakes).
Selling retails and on markets to reach all household budgets.
At the moment I m learning how to shape hardwoods timbers and Steel welding to create new shapes of cake rings and trays.
Building your own tools is something I can completely identify with. It makes your craft more personal and exiting in so many ways.
I am not a pastry chef however I am always interested in pastry development myself because If it were not for the pastry and Ferran Adria stating…. :
“The barriers between the sweet and savoury world are being broken down. Importance is being given to a new cold cuisine, particularly in the creation of the frozen savoury world.”
….I dont think the developments in the culinary world would not have been possible.
What I meant to say is that the only way we chefs could have evolved is by braking down those barrieres and my dishes certainly have been completely revolutionised by observing all the techniques from pastry and adjusting to apply to savoury.
What advise do you have for aspiring pastry chef and chefs alike?
Regis:……….Creating a dessert and play with the interactions of flavours and textures takes time, and while you re going through that process , dealing with your instinctual drives and needs you may face opposition , misunderstanding not always founded and that’s the hardest part. Like a writer facing fierce criticisms for his latest novel.
Thank you so much Regis for this mini interview. I hope it will inspire others as it has inspired me. Please keep us posted on any of your pasty wisdom and creations to come.
This is the historic coin he found:
“Pastry chef Regis Cursan was out with his metal detector near Putney Bridge in West London when he unearthed a rare item. Made from bronze and smaller than a ten pence piece, the coin – later identified as a ‘Brothel token,” depicted a man and a woman engaged in an intimate act.
Amateur archaeologist and pastry chef Regis Cursan was out with his metal detector near Putney Bridge in West London when he unearthed a rare item. Made from bronze and smaller than a ten pence piece, the coin – later identified as a ‘Brothel token,’ depicted a man and a woman engaged in an intimate act.