Chef The Leaders of Enogastronomy Rising Stars

Zian Bodou, 19-Year-Old Chef Opens His First Restaurant

Alessandra Meldolesi
Copertina zian bodou

It's never too early to enter the kitchen: in Pau, Aquitaine, a nineteen-year-old opened his own restaurant after his experiences alongside Philippe Etchebest and Michel Guérard. Here is Zian Bodou's story.

The story

Enfant prodige of French cuisine, Zian Bodou burned through the ranks. His face is still that of a child, yet showing deadly concentration as he uses his tongs to finish plating herbs at the counter. Nineteen years old and already running his own restaurant in Pau, Aquitaine, his hometown. The restaurant, in the castle district, has been open since the beginning of December 2022 and goes under the name "L'Obsidienne" (Obsidian), speaking of minerality and alluding directly to the Pyrenees.


His father was his first accomplice, involving him in his gourmet jaunts and thus making him fall in love with cooking. So much so that by the age of seven he was already beginning to juggle pots and pans. Then the obvious choice of the hotel school in Morlaàs, the competition for best apprentice, the Top Chef final, and a couple of high-ranking experiences, with stars of the caliber of Philippe Etchebest and Michel Guérard.

@Nicola Sabatier

After running a fixed-formula kitchen at the "Table d'Hôte du Vic-Bilh" in a 17th-century manor house, here he is, chef patron of a real restaurant. "And it's a much bigger machine. I work with a lot of place settings. The goal is to refine my trait and get something superior. I'm always a little stressed, but I feel happier in the kitchen than in the dining room. Even though I go meet every single customer to ask them for feedback." Our cellar contains only local and seasonal ingredients, for a cuisine aspiring to be authorial and naturalistic, for instance with local salmon with broth infused with dead leaves and tiny vegetables.

Bodou family in front of the restaurant

Zian Bidou's creativity revolves around the concept of "ecosystem": what the young chef favors is the study of the ingredient, to reconstruct the habitat surrounding it, exploring it during long walks in the Pyrenees and replicating it through the use of leaves and flowers thereby collected. It is precisely the origin of the ingredients that’s acting as a true guarantor of the stylistic coherence of dishes, which often have their roots going back in time, updating centuries-old recipes that have made the glory of French cuisine in a bistronomic way (the "Horizon Essentiel" lunch formula starts at 30 euros, the "Horizon Extrême" dinner formula at 62). In his dreams there is MICHELIN, "but more than a star, I seek exceptionality" he reveals with dreamy eyes.


Source: France 3

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Cover photo: @Zoe Donnot

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