French Chef shares her food and beauty secrets
When I stare at the magazine rack to pass the time at the airport, I am always surprised by the number of magazines on cooking and on beauty in the “women” section. For most, cooking and beauty are two very different topics. For me, there is a real common thread between the two:
When you cook, you should never compromise quality by using mediocre products. If I fix a beef burgundy, I buy a good chuck roast from the local store that sells local, fresh meat, and I ask the butcher to cube it for me. I use the same wine to cook it as I will be serving with it.
If I fix a pie, I make my own dough with butter, not margarine. Ironically, French chemist Hippolyte Mege-Mouries invented margarine; however, the taste of butter is much better. We do not have to eat butter every day, but when we bake, butter produces much better results than margarine. Dough made with butter tastes artisanal. Made with margarine, it tastes industrial. If you dedicate some time in the kitchen, you may as well produce something delicate, delicious and scrumptious, not something that you could have bought at the store. How do you achieve that? By buying good, natural ingredients to start with.
As a restaurant owner and a chef, I never compromised. I was born in France, grew up in France in a family of accomplished cooks, one of whom, John, made his way to the highest and most elitist spheres of French gastronomy in France. On the other hand, my menu in Montana was a “bistro style” menu, down to earth, less “pretentious”, but good! – coq au vin, tartiflette, ratatouille, leek and potato soup, etc. Simple, but hearty, tasty, and most importantly, made with good, natural ingredients.
You cannot go wrong with good, natural ingredients. You cannot waste your time or your efforts with them. They guarantee you success. They do not have to be expensive, but they have to be good and natural.
So, what does this have to do with beauty, you might ask?
We, women, spend money on lotions, serums, facial creams, and we think that the more expensive the jar is, the better. Beauty supply giants choose the right wording and the right packaging to convince us that their moisturizer is the best of all brands. And we go for it, because we, women, all want to have the perfect skin, the perfect glow. Have you ever met a woman who wanted to look older than she is?
I must admit, I am a marketing disaster for these giants, because I resist the temptation to believe their message. Rather, I believe in some simple, natural products and routines that have kept my skin supple and wrinkle-free over the years, spending less than… ten dollars a month!
Just like in cooking, I believe that natural products work best. Also, in the same way as I like to know what is in a product before I ingest it, I like to know what is in it before I rub it on my face.
The very first time I was in French Polynesia, I could not believe how beautiful Tahitian women’s skin was. I assumed that the warm and humid climate had something to do with it. So, I mingled with them and started asking questions about their perfect skin’s mystery.
You have to understand that the Tahitians are soft, gentle, and generous people. They love their islands and are eternally grateful for Mother Nature and how She provides – The prolific plants, fruits and flowers are used for food, personal care, pharmaceuticals, accessories, home and table decorating, furniture, etc. The Tahitians are very resourceful, and it would not occur to Tahitian women to buy some synthetically made, expensive products when Mother Nature provides.
And I was amazed to find out that all they do is... tap a few drops of their "sacred beauty oil" into their skin every day and voila! Simple and natural. Even though their skin is exposed to the intense sun every day, it is beautiful and glamorous. So, I bought some of that precious oil and started the routine. Years later, people ask me how I manage to be wrinkle-free in this dry, arid, brutal Montana climate. And I often remind them of the food that they had at my restaurant, the simple and natural food. Well, the same applies to beauty products. You cannot go wrong with “simple and natural”. That is the secret!