He is one of the emblematic candidates of this thirteenth season. To the point that viewers were left stunned when he was rushed to leave top chef a few weeks ago “for personal reasons“. Back in the league a week later, Lilian Douchet never stopped wanting to take advantage of this second chance and defend the purples until the end. But the competition stopped for him at the end of the thirteenth night. A rather crazy course of which Tele-free time was able to chat with the former manager of a supermarket.
†It was freestyle from the start†
Tele-free time : Why did you participate in top chef this season ?
Lilian Douchet : I never subscribed to top chef† I was approached by the casters when I was working at George V and La Truffière. I was 22 at the time and already a sous chef. They called me back this year. When I found out I was hired, I went to see my CEO. He told me: “Go ahead, Lilian, go for it! This is what you were made for.†
You hadn’t cooked for two years. Did you train for the competition?
No, I haven’t trained at all. I was cast in early September, two weeks later there were the qualifiers and a week later the shooting started. I don’t even know if I’m at 50% of my ability top chef† I thought we would have a kitchen available to train in between events and get my bearings again, but no. It was freestyle from the start!
What were you most afraid of during the match?
Be eliminated first. I had told my family. I didn’t know what level there would be and whether I still had the level myself. By the way, for the very first event, I didn’t sleep all night, I had a sleepless night.
“I could have easily won top chef†
Your goal was the quarter-finals to get back into the business. Isn’t it too frustrating to be knocked out at the gates of this stage?
YES, it’s utterly frustrating, especially because I think I could have easily won Top Chef. Even today I tell myself that I screwed up and that I certainly wasn’t strong enough in my head. I had the level to be at least in the semi-finals.
What exactly did you miss this evening?
For the first test, I don’t really pick my target. I had a really nice one, but it was much more personal, I didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t want to expose my weaknesses to the whole earth. I’m very happy that Arnaud (Delvenne, editor’s note) won this event because I loved his business. For me, we judged the cause more than the kitchen. This is my personal opinion. As for the second test, I prefer not to answer.
Do you understand the jury’s decision on the last chance?
Yes, I knew I was losing once my preparation was over. I miss 5-6 minutes. I didn’t have time to sweeten my tiles or properly cook my pears. Sébastien (Renard, editor’s note) has done a great job because he is a great cook. I knew that to beat him I had to do something without the slightest mistake. And there were mistakes.
An enthusiastic jury
Were you able to consult with the jury after you left?
Secure ! They all had great words for me. When I say my dream is to become a great chef, Glenn Viel interrupts me and says, “Stop, Lilian, you are already a great cook!“It’s huge. Hélène Darroze tells me it would be an ultimate mess if I didn’t take over the kitchen. They all told me they would be there for me. The four judges were extraordinary. Paul Pairtwe talked for an hour.
He seemed very moved by your departure…
I think I was the winner for Paul Pairet. He told me that several times during the match. He is inevitably disappointed. And me too, because I really wanted him to win.
†Every evening I take an hour to answer messages†
You soon became the darling of the crowd… and not just for your cooking…
It seems… (He laughs.) I get a lot of messages, yes.
You are very active on social media…
I know that I am being followed on the networks and that I owe them a lot. So I try to do as much as possible. I am often asked for birthday messages on video, I try to do them. Every night, when I get home from work around midnight – 1 am, I take an hour to answer as many people as possible. My apologies for not being able to respond to everyone. When I have reservations for a birthday, I try to adjust my schedule where possible. I always check out my restaurants with my subscribers. This week I have to sign for my first gourmet restaurant that should open at the end of September. I will share all the steps with my followers and maybe even let them make some decisions.
After opening a restaurant in Bordeaux a few weeks ago (Lil’Home), you are about to open one in Paris (Lady Augustine) and you announce a third…
Yes, now is the time! I’ve always been super ambitious. I wanted to open restaurants where as many people as possible can come. If I had opened a gastro right away I would have gone to a “lite” and that’s not what I wanted to do. Whether in Paris or Bordeaux, I stay at very attractive prices so that everyone can come for a tapas, an aperitif or a lunch. Currently I work from 7 am to 1 am, seven days a week. I stopped for two years, now I have to catch up and do things thoroughly. I’m going to try and get 2000 per hour by doing things right.