Tell me about yourself Angélique — Where are you from?
I am from the French Alps, I grew up in the little village of Arêches-Beaufort in Savoie. Like a lot of things, it is only after I left the village, that I understood the special and unique childhood that I had — uncommitted to the rest of the world, but with a strong proximity to community and the nature. An artistic environment filled with ideals.
What was it like growing up?
Well, we never had to wait for a green light to cross streets, we went to school on a path lined with thousands of wildflowers and had 360°of mountains to play. We picked fruit and roots in the summer and skied in the winter.
I understand now that very few kids had this chance of growing up freely. I can’t remember us sitting on the couch, and this is probably why I am full of energy and understand the rules of nature only — fragility and a respect for everything on earth, including us.
When and how did your love for what you do start?
My parents have a cozy hotel and restaurant called L’Auberge du Poncellamont. Growing up, we were living on the spot, and this taught me very early the fast body language of hospitality and the importance of being courageous, determined and a hard worker; this has been primordial in my career.
I was always involved in my parents' business by my desire of learning and creation. As I would see my parents at work, I was fascinated by the expertise given to every simple little detail — how Mama was arranging the floral composition for the tables, how Papa was checking with dexterity the consistency of his sauces — what a spectacle for my kid’s eye!
What did you do at the hotel?
Little, I was pretty wild, but I absolutely wanted to welcome customers at the reception. So my mum would teach me manners. It never worked out the way she wanted, but I kept this smile on and it never went away!
When did you start experimenting with food?
Dad didn’t want us in the kitchen— "This not a place for kids," he would say. But my brother and I wanted to use our hands like our parents, so our Ali Baba cave was my dad's workshop! Dangerous or not, his tools were all forms of toys to us. That’s how we started getting addicted to making something incredible with nothing, and the job I have today is not a coincidence.
What do you like best about making desserts?
After a meal, people usually feel full so they need to play, they need to dream or remember. That is where we need the delicacy and the subtlety of dessert.
What do you like doing with your free time?
One of my favourite to do in my free time is travelling. Travelling, dreaming and cooking, are all the same to me. My favourite is going on an adventure on my touring bike to somewhere unknown. Being on the road, cycling for hours and spending your night in nature gives you the rare time to just sit back and think. I am completey persuaded that the essential can’t be seen by the eyes.
What do you get inspired from?
It is probably because I don’t like living for comfort and security, that I live far from home. You can’t take anything for granted and it forces you to take in new and refreshing perspective. That is how I stayed inspired, just from life.
I try to collect every experience possible. Curiosity drives me, and I try to collect every experience.I am not scared of differences and try to cultivate mine.The thing that kills my inspiration is following the flock — it is just repeating, copying — that is not the point.
What does individuality mean to you? And how important is it for you to express yourself?
I have never followed the trends, thanks to where I come from. Of course, because of that I face a case of not-fitting-in individuality almost every time, specially living in another country, another culture. But it doesn’t really matter, as long as you are respectful to both yourself and others.There is no problem of standing for yourself, but just find the right balance to not be too sure of it.
Angélique Peretto lives in Canberra, Australia, and is a pastry chef. She was nominated for ‘Best Pastry Chef’ in Australia by Gault and Millau in 2016. She was on Episode 18 of Season 9 of Masterchef.