Cydric Tachdjian has three keywords that guide his cooking at Cheval Blanc wine bar and kitchen in Moseley.
“Love, passion and respect – for the food, the product and the guest,” he explains.
The approach stems from a childhood surrounded by food.
His father in his home town of Voiron in the Isère department of south-eastern France and his auntie in Geneva were in the catering industry and he used to adore watching his grandmother cook over a charcoal stove for the family.
A neighbour – and his father’s boss – owned a farm that Cyd would visit.
“As a child I’d help look after the animals and was there when they were slaughtered,” he remembers, in that unsentimental way the French have about creatures that are also edible.
“I was six when I first said that I wanted to be a chef.”
He remembers also his visits to Alsace – where his mother’s side of his family is from – and where the abundance and quality of food astonished him.
Cyd’s professional career began with four years as a student at the renowned catering college, Le Lycée Hôtelier Lesdiguières in Grenoble.
“I worked throughout my years as a student – no days off, no weekends, no holidays,” says Cyd.
He spent three years working in kitchens, then came a period of National Service – in charge of the Officers’ Mess at Belfort – before he headed to Birmingham in 1996.
Determined to improve his English, his first job was at TGI Fridays on Hagley Road in Edgbaston.
“I grew bored quickly and moved to the Copthorne Hotel,” he recalls.
He was soon busy freelancing as a chef and afterwards came 10 months working on cruise ships before returning to France, where he spent five years as a head chef and general manager.
Cyd came back to Birmingham in 2006, working with the guys from Maison Mayci, the French bakery and cafe with shops in Moseley and Kings Heath.
Here he developed his own deli business – Scarlet Pimpernel, which supplied high-quality produce and ready-cooked meals along with Mayci’s beautifully-crafted bread.
From 2007-14 he worked on different street food concepts, from crepes to fine dining French food, pasta and bespoke catering for corporates.
More freelance work and business enterprises followed – including an innovative initiative providing high-quality food for buildings working on the new sports complex at the University of Birmingham.
“It was a festival-style set-up with a proper kitchen in a marquee,” adds Cyd.
“We served breakfast and lunch – real fresh food.
“This was no greasy spoon – it was a proper cafe.”
Now, that project completed, Cyd has been recruited to provide customers at Cheval Blanc with dishes perfectly crafted to complement the wines.
Glance through the autumn menu and you will see Cyd’s signature – great ingredients treated with respect and imagination.
“I love working here,” says Cyd.
“Every single person involved with Cheval Blanc is passionate about what they do and I’m the same.
“To work with great quality ingredients is thrilling – like a musician who writes a piece of music and then hears it come alive and making the final arrangements.
“The menu will be seasonal, using the best ingredients that we can find.”
He expects wild mushrooms to feature heavily as ‘specials’ during the autumn and winter months, drawing on his contacts in this country and mainland Europe.
Meanwhile, as we sit chatting with opening time approaches, Cyd begins to glance towards the kitchen where there are deliveries to sort out, prep to complete and an engineer noisily working on an errant dishwasher.
It’s clear that he wants to be in there doing what he always knew he wanted to do.
145 Alcester Rd, Moseley, Birmingham B13 8JP. 0121 449 6344.
I’m working on a freelance basis with Cheval Blanc.