A match made in foodie heaven
TEXT: KATIE TURNER | PHOTO © GIANNI VILLA
Husband and wife team Anthony and Fumiko Maubert make working in the pressured environment of their Michelin-starred kitchen look easy. “We are totally complementary in every way,” says Anthony. “Our approaches are different. I’m very French, my signature style is wood-fired cooking. Fumiko brings the Japanese twist, very little fat, umami and a lightness that we don’t usually have in France.”
They met working in a Michelin-starred kitchen. Now they run one of their own – Assa – in Blois in the Loire Valley. The couple were awarded their star in 2015, just a year after opening.
Fumiko didn’t plan to stay in France: she was a nutritionist in Japan and came over to perfect her French cooking, so she could go back and provide balanced gourmet meals for high-end clients. “She’s taught me so much,” says Anthony. “She’s pushed me to be more creative and I’ve finessed my style thanks to her.”
Cooking is in Anthony’s blood and his wood-fired dishes were inspired by watching his grandfather in the kitchen. “He was a butcher and taught me everything I know,” says Anthony. “He was also very close to nature, and did a lot of walking in the woods close to where he lived.” On those walks, his grandfather would not only collect firewood to burn, but also take cuttings from trees and replant as he went. “He was always putting something back,” Anthony recalls.
That idea of regeneration is very much part of the Maubert’s philosophy: “I want traceability for my ingredients, I want to know their history, and I want to respect them,” Anthony continues.
Assa, which means ‘morning’ in Japanese, chimes with the spirit of their kitchen. “We create our menus on the day, with whatever produce our suppliers tell us is at its best. I love this element of surprise,” explains Anthony, all the while giving directions to the busy kitchen preparing for service.
The Maubert’s team is drawn from all four corners of the globe, which is what makes the restaurant so dynamic. “Cooking and family are intertwined and the team here at Assa are family to me. We have so much to learn from each other,” says Anthony. “We love taking risks in the kitchen, that’s what it’s all about. That’s the sweet spot.”
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