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25 February 1897|
|Died||4 March 1955
From his restaurant "La Pyramide" in Vienne, a town half an hour to the south of Lyon, he gained three Michelin stars and trained a generation of French master chefs: Paul Bocuse, Alain Chapel, Louis Outhier, Georges Perrier and Jean and Pierre, the Brothers Troisgros. He had received his training with Foyot in Paris.
The restaurant was founded shortly after World War I. From its kitchen came the modern lightly thickened sauces, baby vegetables and other aspects of nouvelle cuisine. During the regime of Vichy France, Point served refugees fleeing the Nazi invasion of France. When German officers began patronising his establishment, he stopped serving dinner. When they demanded tables for lunch, he closed his restaurant altogether.
The ovens in the restaurant were coal powered up until the 1970s, and feature the flat top that is heated from below by the coal and provides a gradient of heat (known as a "piano"). The cooking was done with copper pans. One of the regular customers was the Aga Khan III who used to eat an immense amount of food. The wine collection was also one of the best in the world with more than 40,000 bottles of wine in the 3 cellars by the 1970s. Each day the menu would be written out by hand by Fernand's wife based on the best produce available that day.
Foie Gras en Brioche Goose liver, marinated in port and armagnac with a whole truffle in the middle, cooked in the middle of very eggy unsweetened brioche bread. Once baked, the brioche would be sliced and each slice would have the concentric circles of truffle, foie gras, and brioche. This would be presented on a silver platter typically with the ends of the platter decorated with starched napkins in a gondola shape, flowers, and the platter encircled with aspics (jellies) made with port.
Gratin of Crayfish tails This dish took years for Fernand Point to perfect and was considered one of his greatest masterpieces. It consists of Crayfish cooked in a mirepoix and then doused with cognac and white wine. It is then covered in crayfish butter and hollandaise sauce and browned in the oven.
Pâté de Chasse en croûte A classic dish consisting of various kinds of ground game meat (depending on the season) cooked in a decorated puff pastry case.
Poularde en Vessie Marius Vettard This dish was originated by or in honor of Marius Vettard, a chef from the Lyon restaurant "Cafe Neuf". A chicken from Bresse (a region considered having some of the best chickens in the world). The chicken is stuffed with truffles and foie gras, put in a cleaned pig bladder and the bladder is boiled in chicken consommé. The bladder is designed to hermetically seal in the juices of the chicken and may be a predecessor to today's process of cooking sous vide.
Gratin Dauphinois Fernand Point's version of the local potato gratin featured no cheese and the potatoes in one single layer.
Salade Delice A salad of barely cooked French string beans (haricot verts), sliced mushrooms, sliced truffles, diced duck liver and a dressing. This salad became copied worldwide in the 1970s and '80s amongst followers of Fernand Point's Nouvelle Cuisine.
Marjolaine This multi-layered cake also took many years to perfect.
Saint-Marcellin Saint-Marcellin, a very runny aged local cheese was the preferred cheese served at the restaurant.
While Point worked in the kitchen, his wife welcomed their guests. She continued owning the restaurant after her husband's death. Before his death, Point trained a generation of chefs who would take his ideas to new heights: Paul Bocuse, Jean and Pierre Troisgros, Alain Chapel, Francois Bise, Louis Outhier, Michel Guérard and Roger Vergé became the pioneers of the expansion of Nouvelle Cuisine into the 1970s. World-famous chef Charlie Trotter described Point's Ma Gastronomie as the most important cookbook.
- Point, Fernand (2008) Ma Gastronomie, Rookery Press. ISBN 978-1-58567-961-4
- If someone were to take away all my cookbooks except for one, I would keep Fernand Point’s Ma Gastronomie. For me, his philosophy instilled what cuisine is all about: generosity and hugeness of heart. Point said that if you are not a generous person you cannot be in this field. I think you’ll notice that chefs, as a whole, say yes to any project, fundraiser, or tasting because they have such a generous spirit.
An Interview with Chef Charlie Trotter Jennifer Iannolo - Dec 15, 2003