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Sunday, September 27, 2009

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Florian V. Hugo, Executive Chef of Brasserie Cognac

Chef Florian V. Hugo is an 8-year veteran of the world-renowned Alain Ducasse restaurants in Paris, Monaco and London. He was also Sous Chef of Alain Ducasse at the Essex House Hotel in New York City. Chef Hugo also had the privilege of serving his military duty as the private chef for the French Minister of Defense. Formerly, the Executive Chef at La Panetière Restaurant in Rye, NY, Greenwich Magazine quoted Chef Hugo to "have taken La Panetiere Restaurant from excellent to extraordinary." Hugo has also been known to pack "precision and flavor into each dish he creates."

In addition to appearing on the Today Show and News 12, Chef Hugo’s culinary talent was rated "Excellent" by the New York Times in November 2005. In August 2006, he joined the Four Seasons Hotel as a restaurant chef.

As Executive Chef of Brasserie Cognac, Chef Hugo uses his experience and talent to create a traditional French Brasserie menu with a modern twist. Some of his unique creations are Cod Fish with Champagne and
Caviar Sabayon and a Lobster and Foie Gras Tart or the Tartar Royal of Corn-fed Filet Mignon with Caper Berries and Dijon Mustard. Chef Hugo uses Cognac inside a number of recipes, and it is also offered as a
pairing to many dishes, including in a couple of tableside flambé dishes.  Whom You Know has recommended Brasserie Cognac and it is among Peachy's Picks:

"The cuisine at Brasserie Cognac is generous in flavors, firmly anchored in the basics of French brasserie dishes, yet somewhat sophisticated,” Chef Hugo says. "We are aiming to please and satisfy New Yorkers’
discerning palates, providing our guests with a unique and distinctive experience, surrounded by Brasserie Cognac's lively atmosphere."

A native of Provence, Chef Hugo is a direct descendant of the writer Victor Hugo. Chef Hugo comes from a family of generations of artists and poets, thus treats his cuisine as his own form of art. His great energy and enthusiasm are among his greatest assets. Chef Hugo brings to Brasserie Cognac his strong belief in the simplicity of cooking, focusing on flavor and sophistication.

Whom You Know is thrilled to present him as our latest Mover and Shaker!  Peachy Deegan interviewed Florian V. Hugo for Whom You Know.

Peachy Deegan: When did you realize you wanted to be a chef?
Florian V. Hugo: I started cooking at the age of 12…but it is after trying it out at a friend’s restaurant in Denver that I knew I wanted to cook professionally and become a chef/restaurateur.

What was it like to serve under Military duty?
Very formative… I learned to please the most discerning palate, work on ever changing schedule but most of all it was a great opportunity for me to start exercising my young skills as a cook.

What is different about being a chef in Manhattan compared to the South of France, where you are from?
Not really comparable; the quality of life in the south of france is much better but business is hard to is of course not as dynamic as NYC; NYC offers a lot more opportunities for a young chef than  the south of france.

What makes Brasserie Cognac the best French restaurant in New York in addition to the fact that you are the chef?
We try to be the best in our own category… we certainly don’t pretend to be better than others; we only try to please the discerning palates of our good regular clientele..
but if you come and try our Do-remy cocktail with a nice cheese soufflé or a tomato and goat cheese tart, or our fabulous filet flambé with cognac you might certainly leave the restaurant with the only desire to come back for more!!

What do you enjoy making the most as a chef?
Creating the ceremonial of dinner … having my customers eating and drinking with a smile

Tell us about your artistic family please.
From Victor my ancestor to Pierre, my father, every single generation in my family was inspired to choose an artistic profession, from writers to poets, to sculptor, to painter to goldsmith..I chose the art of cooking..!

What or who has had the most influence on your pursuit of excellence?
My family gave me the love for Art, Chef Alain Ducasse gave me the tool to master it.

What is your favorite place to be in Manhattan?
Home with my family! Then Cognac

What is your favorite shop in Manhattan?
For food: Citarella, they have the freshest food available on the market; Barneys for shopping (I like fashion)

What is your favorite drink?
These days, I like a nice chilled glass of white Sancerre; it cleans up and refreshes your palate after a long days of tasting food!

What is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan?
Veritas, where Gregory Pugin cooks amazing dishes.. Serafina for the pizza

What is your favorite Manhattan book?
Honestly I don’t have time to read… but one of my favorite is “Secret Ingredients: the new Yorker book of food and drink”

What has been your best Manhattan athletic experience?
Running 2 blocks after a bus to go to work!

What is your favorite thing to do in Manhattan that you can do nowhere else?
Having a picnic in Central Park and think you are not in the busiest, largest and nosiest city in America

What has been your best Manhattan art or music experience?
Taking my daughter Ella to a Carnegie Hall concert and watch her face as she hears a soprano for the first time..

Other than Movers and Shakers of course, what is your favorite Whom You Know column and what do you like about it?
Tasty tidbits…it keep me posted on what’s going on in the restaurant bizz

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you?
I don’t like like long interviews!!!!

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers?
Come to Brasserie Cognac!!

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