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PARIS — With his good looks, gap teeth, piercing hazelnut eyes and tattooed arms, Pierre Jancou could have fulfilled childhood dream his dream of becoming an actor.
In fact, at 18, he left Switzerland, where he was born, to take acting classes in Paris. For three years, he worked in restaurants, brasseries and pizzerias to pay for his classes, and he decided that he was much more interested in food than the stage.
“I was lucky because I developed a palate at an early age. My father use to take me to great restaurants,” he says.
Jancou opened his first restaurant on Rue Montmartre at only 21 and ran it for eight years before going to Italy where he learned about natural and diet food, and Italian charcuterie and cheeses.
Since his return to Paris in 2001, he indulged his passion for natural products and wines, first at La Cremerie restaurant and wine bar; then at Racines, where his sincere cooking and organic wines became a craze.
In April this year, the 40-year-old chef opened a new 28-seat eatery called Vivant, which translates to “alive.”
Decorated with original, century-old mosaics, Vivant is nested on a lively street in the 10th arrondissement and offers a different menu daily.
Jancou’s signature dish, “poularde racines,” a fatted chicken served with organic vegetables, is a hit there, as well as a delicious burrata and thinly sliced culatello, a tasty Italian ham.
“I eat a lot of meat, and I love baby animals. I know it sounds terrible, but suckling pigs and baby lamb is so flavorful,” he says.
Reflecting his passion for organic wines, Jancou will publish his first book on artisanal wines next October. It will be called “Vin Vivant.”