INTERVIEW – The 28-year-old chef left the M6 gastronomic competition after a very good last chance.
Lilian Douchet marked season 13 of “Top Chef” with her strong personal story. The young man was due to open his restaurant when the Covid broke out. His project fell through, he converted… in mass distribution. After two years without cooking, it is under the hat of hypermarket manager that the young man took part in the show. However, his culinary resume is full of experiences in many starred restaurants. He was notably sous-chef at La Truffière and L’Orangerie. The culinary competition M6 therefore meant a possible renaissance for him. Knocked out after a high-level peer-themed last chance, he looks back on his adventure.
TV MAGAZINE. – How did you react during your elimination?
Lilian SHOWER. † Of course I was very sad because I wanted to win “Top Chef”. Despite not having cooked in two years, I think I had the level to push myself to the limit. I was also sad for Paul Pairet who trusted me from the beginning.
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What did you miss on this latest opportunity, described by the chefs as “the best of the season”?
I think I missed five minutes to caramelize my tuile and cook my pears more so they melt more. It’s great to leave with the best last chance of the season, but that doesn’t soften anything. I was sorry to leave the match.
How did the previous two tests go?
I am a humble person who finds it hard to give in to his emotions so the first test was very strong just by talking about my pneumothorax. I was disappointed I didn’t win. For the second I was even more sad because I think I should have qualified. My tuile was ultra-crispy at the base, but it got soggy during the waiting time…
You left the competition for personal reasons and returned to the competition thanks to the elimination round. How did you experience it?
It was a great moment! I definitely wanted to win this event because I wanted to come back to Chef Paul Pairet. To me it was him and no one else. So I put myself in “warrior” mode. I was relieved to return to the competition because it was heartbreaking to have to leave, but I had no choice. I managed to get back into my boss’ brigade, it was great!
What connection do you have with him?
We were very close during filming and I hope we will stay that way because he is a person I adore. After I was knocked out, we talked for thirty minutes. He told me he could help me if I wanted a job. He did a lot to get me back in the kitchen.
And with the candidates?
I am still in contact with some of them. In particular, Arnaud has become a true friend. I admit that with all my current projects I find it difficult to name them. I hope we can get together over a good meal to talk about the memories of the shoot.
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What is your best memory? And the worst?
The best memory is my first solo event where I presented the kakigori style Japanese langoustine lollipop. It was a dish that is 100% like me with an avant-garde and conceptual side and in line with what I would like to offer in my future gourmet restaurant. So it was a big challenge because I wondered if I could do it. I was super happy to win. The worst moment is the restaurant war and not being able to open it. We worked for two days, it was really cruel… The other bad memory will remain my elimination.
Why did you decide to do “Top Chef”?
I’ve been cast. I was working in a hypermarket at the time. I told myself that maybe it was destiny and that I should chase my dreams. Since childhood I think that cooking was made for me. That’s why I agreed to participate. The production had already offered me to participate in previous years, but I declined because I didn’t think I was suitable for television. I’m quite shy, but in the end I found it quite pleasant.
Could you host a TV show?
It depends on what program. I’m not going to play a puppet. Another channel has already offered me to participate in a reality show, but I am not interested. If we ask to make culinary reports about the kitchen, I do that with great pleasure.
What were you looking for in “Top Chef”?
I needed to be reassured. I wondered if I was made for this and if I was capable of making my dreams come true. The chefs I worked for always said I had enormous potential. The judges also said very nice words to me. Glenn Viel told me I was already a great chef, it blew me away and Hélène Darroze told me it was a shame for French cuisine not to return to the profession. Philippe Etchebest also had very strong words. Basically, they told me to stop messing around, take a few weeks off and do everything I can.
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And that’s what happened?
Yes, because I just opened the Lilhome restaurant in Bordeaux with my cousin and very soon Dame Augustine in the 13th arrondissement in Paris. In these two establishments I offer a bistronomic menu with seasonal products of short circuit. There are also tapas and, in Paris, an afternoon tea formula. I also sign up for my gourmet restaurant in the 7th arrondissement of Paris for a few days. I’m going to cook French cuisine there with ideas from all over the world. I don’t necessarily aim for the stars. I’m going to do my best, and if that happens, great.
You touched viewers with your story. It’s not common to be a chef from a hypermarket…
I knew there was going to be a second lockdown and I didn’t want to sit still. I am a big hard worker. I decided to orient myself where there was work, namely the hypermarkets. I started as a bakery manager and because I adapted very quickly, I quickly became a manager. Finally, there are many common markers between catering and mass distribution, especially quality of service and customer satisfaction.
What do you remember about the “Top Chef” experience?
Great joys and sad moments. It was very tough emotionally. We were also limited to the candidates, so it wasn’t easy. But the match gave me the desire.
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