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A conversation with Adrien and Augustine of Cheri Bibi
Mar 13 '24

A conversation with Adrien and Augustine of Cheri Bibi

Editorial

A conversation with Adrien and Augustine of Cheri Bibi in Biarritz, featuring our Spring '24 collection -- Drop 2 is available tomorrow 3/14, online and in-store.

Photography by: Rupert Tapper

 

 

We met in Copenhagen like six years ago, I wanted to go there for the culinary scene as it's quite big. I started working in the PUGLISE group which owns several establishments and I was working for Danish Italian chef at their Italian restaurant. Some friends I made there told me about that French guy who was coming back to Copenhagen and that I had to meet because he was very friendly. We ended up meeting after work. Adrian at the time was working for their wine bar and we started dating and we realized we were good match.

The idea of opening a place together appeared a few years after in our relationship, but it was also due to our past life in the restaurant industry independently. I work on the floor he's a chef so if he wants to open a place he needs someone on the floor and I need someone in the kitchen so it was a good match. We ended up working together in Copenhagen and at that point and we could see that it was working.

 

 

 

 

Our last experience in Copenhagen was at a fine dining restaurant called AMASS, it's owned by Matt Orlando, an American who was the chef de cuisine at Noma. We both moved to Copenhagen was because it was the very spotlight of the food industry in the world. We wanted to have an experience and we both learned from the people managing some of the best restaurants in the world. sI guess that helped a lot in putting standards in both our ways of cooking and obviously in the way of managing the restaurant.

 

 

 

 

Before that that I was working finance in Sydney, for almost three years. When I was in Australia I used to cook a lot for my friends over the weekend and they said why don’t you just move into this kind of industry. I thought maybe like linking all my experience through management and business with my passion for food and cooking so I decided to quit move back to France, did a very short and intense course cooking school in Bayonne.

 

 

 

 

I quickly realized that if I really wanted to go where I wanted to go I had to move away from my comfort zone in Les Landes. I decided to move to Paris with my best friend. Two days after I arrived in Paris like we went out to natural wine bar and I was already sending my resume to restaurants but I had no experience and and I bumped into a very known chef in Paris called Iñaki Aizpitarte, The Chef Behind Le Chateaubriand, he is basically he's the guy who reinvented “bistronomy” in Paris and he was doing things people never did before. When I saw him at the bar with my friends we looked at each other and just like, fuck this is this is Iñaki, he was a legend for us. After a few drinks I went and talked to him and mentioned I arrived in Paris like 2 days ago are you by any chance are you looking for staff in your kitchens? He was making jokes, ohh yeah but I don't hire finance guys in my kitchen. Eventually he gave me his phone number and told me to give him a text message tomorrow. I was like OK he’s probably not even going to remember me tomorrow. But I sent a message and he responded, be ready with your knife and kitchen attire next week. It was a restaurant that is close to the Bistro called the Le Dauphin doing tapas styles and some food you couldn't do at the Le Chateaubriand. That’s where I really started cooking but Paris, I was not meant to live in Paris it was too much for me so after six months that's where I decided to move to Copenhagen to learn new things, new skills, new city, new ideas.

 

 

 

 

Since we worked together for over a year and we could see that it was a good match. When COVID happened we moved back to France. After the lockdown we realized it would be harder to go overseas again to work in another restaurant. We thought about giving the Basque country a chance. We hadn't been in France for the last for eight years so we decided, let's go with the flow and if some opportunity happens then we'll think about it. When we had the first visit to Cheri Bibi we knew we could do something cool there, knowing it's a small place. There is a massive confidence in each other about how she runs the restaurant, how she selects the wines and vice versa with me in our kitchen. I always ask her like what do you feel about this dish, and I trust her taste as well.

 

 

 

 

Adrien is my business partner, my lover and my best friend, and it works well in that triangle. We don't step into each other's away from the food and wine business. I mean I'm more into all the financial aspects of the business and Augustine will be more into the HR and admin we really complement each other and it's a perfect match. There are moments of tension when it's the full high season and stuff like this but I think we so far we did a pretty good job, being business partners.

 

 

 

 

First thing I'm thinking of is like fresh ingredients, local and fresh. We would never thought about working with the frozen ingredients and that's one of the reasons why we decided to move in the Basque Country that the diversity of the ingredients here is really wide and beautiful. It's a lot of work but we couldn't imagine working in a different way.

 

 

 

 

 The terroir here is amazing, so there's a lot of different suppliers. I think also when we open we wanted to focus on vegetables because there's not many places that offers like veggie options. So finding good farmers doing amazing vegetables was something really important. We found that with that so the main farmer we work with where we also have our private 200 square meter of fields where we grow our own aromatics and stuff and he's doing work.

 

 

 

 

We wanted break some ideas of how people should eat, so we shaped the menu where it's more sharing things by having different sections. Sharing portions of vegetables, fish, meat, desserts rather than one main and dessert. So that people are more into like trying different things sharing things and talking about it than just having his own meal and just looking at it.

 

 

 

 

We wanted to create something that we wanted to find when we're not working. When we go to the restaurant’s we love trying each other’s dish and then and interacting on it.  Ohh what did you find, instead of like just having our own dish even if sometimes it's nice but it's not what we mainly do.

 

 

 

 

When you work on the vegetables it's very hard to have only one star vegetables with one sauce or two if you take it as a main dish but if you have more smaller portions that people can have one or two and share depending how many there are it's much easier since we wanted to have at least like 4 vegetables dishes on the menu. It's very easy to have smaller portions but then a lot to share than just like the classic way of doing vegetables.

 

 

 

 

When you work on the vegetables it's very hard to have only one star vegetables with one sauce or two if you take it as a main dish but if you have more smaller portions that people can have one or two and share depending how many there are it's much easier since we wanted to have at least like 4 vegetables dishes on the menu. It's very easy to have smaller portions but then a lot to share than just like the classic way of doing vegetables.

 

 

 

 

I still have trouble realizing that it's our restaurant, I mean of course there has been moments of joy, but sometimes I walk in front of the restaurant and I don't even look at it because we have a deadline that is daily, that makes us as soon as we wake up there this is the stopwatch starting. We always try to push the limits further and we don't really have time to step back. There will always be something we can do better but in the restaurant there's always something going wrong.

 

 

 

 

I can create food every day with the ingredients available to me. To get good wine is different because now more than ever wines are getting more and more limited and wine makers have less and less wine to sell. With natural wine, it's becoming like a battle, fighting to get some good wine.

 

 

Adrian changes dishes so often I’m very impressed by his imagination, his daily imagination. I don't know that many chefs that can create something new every day. I couldn't do it and I'm not saying this because I'm in love with him but really.