Jean-Pierre Vigato, Restaurant Apicius, Paris
Jean-Pierre Vigato has been working with tripe products forever - he might be called the high priest of the calf's head!
Jean-Pierre Vigato's motivation is clear and straightforward: "Cooking is more interesting when it involves offal, because tripe products offer exceptional flavor." They are coveted by a food-loving clientele that enjoys "good, substantial dishes." Furthermore, since opening Apicius in 1984, Jean-Pierre Vigato has always included offal on his menu. It's a link to past generations, certainly, as well as to his own childhood when calf's head was served on the family dinner table. "Calf's head is eaten regularly in central France. In Paris I offer it daily, served bourgeoise style with a piquant ravigote sauce.
A dish for true gourmands
Calf's head can be served for one just one diner, though Jean-Pierre Vigato is proud to serve it whole, carved right in the dining room for tables of six or seven people. "That's when I cater to true gourmands who come in for a big feast!
"What I like about tripe products is their diversity. Each has a distinctive flavor, whether liver, tongue or kidney." They provide a palette of flavors and textures from which to create a wide range of recipes and dishes - though Vigato favors "delicate calf's tongue or calf's liver of great finesse."
A penchant for tradition
As with all the ingredients that go into his cooking, Jean-Pierre Vigato insists on the attention that must be paid when preparing tripe products. "While you don't need to hover incessantly over the pot, you must observe the cooking times so that the ingredients retain their 'mouth-feel' and texture." There is no point choosing a "nice pink calf's liver with a beautiful fine texture, a kidney surrounded by nice white fat or a shining pearlescent pink calf's head" if they are going to be ruined by improper cooking methods. When it comes to recipes, he definitely leans towards the classics, somewhat "conservative" dishes with robust flavors since, as he says, "authentic offal dishes are part of our culinary heritage."
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