It was late Sunday afternoon on the last day of the CLA game fair in 2013 when a photographer came on to my stand and asked if he might photograph my paintings for the lady and gentleman that accompanied him. He explained that the other gentleman was in fact world famous 3 star Michelin Swiss chef Benoit Voilier and he was writing the most amazing book charting every type of feathered game that was possilbe to shoot in Europe along with his amazing recipes of how to cook them and also all about each bird including how to hunt them. Mr Violier loved my work and wanted to include it in the book. I was of course really excited at the prospect of helping with the book but little did I know that I would soon be flying to Switerland and eating in the resurant named 'Best in the World'! Restaurant De l'hotel de Crissier.
On returning from the game fair sure enough I found an email waiting for me. Mr Voilier wanted to commission 3 paintings for his book one of which was a large portrait his dog McQueen. So I soon found myself flying over to Switzlerland to photograph McQueen. We were greated at Geneve airport by a chauffeur called Marcell my Husband Brian and myself were wisked off to the resurant to meet Mr Violier again and photograph his beautiful Springer Spaniel McQueen.
After a photo shoot at the local forest and in the restaurants garden Mr violier asked us if we were hungery and would we like to eat! Well a chance to eat at the best restaurant in the world! We weren't going to turn that down . We found ourselves seated at a huge marble table in the restaurant kitchen. Anouck, Mr Violiers PA told us this was the most prestigious table in the restaurant and there was a huge waiting list to sit there. Two waiters brought us out the most exquisite food I'd ever seen or tasted and then to top it all off Mr Violier came and sat with us to discuss the commissions and the book. It was one of those moments when, on the plane home you pinch yourself and think did that really just happen? I've just sat at the best table, at the best restaurant in the world, with the best chef in world!!! I hold my hands up at not being a foody at all and never really new what all the fuss was about when it came to 3 star michelin food but after that experience I now know just how amazing it really is ! Its art itself, at the higest level.
On Returning home I set about completing the commissions, the deadline was February which only gave me 4 months to complete them. I normally allow a good 6 months for a large painting and Mr Violier's portait of Mqueen was huge, 5ft 6 Inch long by 4 ft high and every inch was tight detail . I worked extremly long hours and only had 2 days of (Christmas day & Boxing day) in that 4 months but I of course got them done on time and posted to Switerland for the deadline.
In October 2015 the book was realised, it was a monster of as book, weighing a 14lbs in weight, 12" long, 10" wide and 3" deep! Brian and I we invited to the launch presentation at the restaurant. I was so proud to be there. Mr violier asked if I would speak to the audience of press and guests that were there about my paintings duing the presentation . Quite a responsiblity to speak on behalf of Mr Violier and again I had to pinch myself. We were made to feel so welcome at the resturant and we enjoyed all of the incredible food at the launch and met some lovely people. It was a day I will remember for the rest of my life!
La Cuisine du Giber A'Plume D'Europe is a truly outstanding book over 1000 pages dedicated to every bird that can be shot an eaten in Europe, it describes each bird in encyclopaedic detail and discusses the practices used to shoot them , prepare them for cooking and also gives a divine recipe of Mr Violiers on how to cook them.
Here are the 3 commissions I did specifically for the book.
It was with great saddness that on the 31st of January 2016 we heard that Mr Violier had passed away. He was a not only 'The Worlds Best Chef' but also a wonderful and inspiring person .