Here is a restorer who has an appetite. The morning we meet Ker Astou in Guérande, she has just finished her daily sports session. She has been a volunteer firefighter for twelve years in La Baule with the rank of corporal-chief and military reserve at 6e Engineer Regiment of Angers: “We do combat, shooting, sentry missions”… And she still watches, with her husband, a salt worker in the Guérande peninsula, over their four children.
Astou Braire, for the civil status, nevertheless finds the time to exercise his profession: chef of private gourmet cuisine, in private homes. She also gives cooking lessons, advises restaurateurs on their menu… But this hyperactive with a strong character above all, at the age of 36, cooks up a project for a gourmet restaurant with around fifty seats in the Guérande peninsula, which she is currently looking for. the walls. The natural continuation of an already busy career, in the form of an upward trajectory, marked by a major and decisive encounter, that of a star of French cuisine, Thierry Marx. This made her one of the 42 winners of the first Joséphine Trophies awarded in March by the Region to “women who dare”.
“I recognized myself in Thierry Marx”
But the story takes root earlier, in Senegal, his native country. She learns from her grandmother. Then she cooks for her friends, who encourage her. But he will have to remove some obstacles to make it his profession. Especially since the young woman, who arrived in France as a teenager, modestly evokes “a difficult life course. But that’s what makes my strength of character. I recognized myself in Thierry Marx”.
Because the famous Michelin star, as we know, also had to fight to force fate, before creating, once fame came, his own school called Cuisine mode d’emploi, intended primarily for young people without diplomas and people in reintegration or professional retraining. And one day when Thierry Marx presents this initiative on television, Ker Astou finds himself in front of his small screen. She has the nerve to send him a motivational email…
First of his class
At the time, she had already scoured a good part of what the Guérande peninsula had restaurants, especially indoors. “I knew what I wanted to do” she says. But without a professional degree, how can you seriously get behind the stove? Cooking, instructions for use will open the doors to him. Because Thierry Marx, who receives her to probe her motivations, validates her candidacy: “I was one of the first students who tested this magnificent accelerated training. I started it in January 2016. It lasted three months. I came out first in my class. »
“He is my godfather, my mentor”
She still has a great admiration for him today: “He’s my godfather in the kitchen, my mentor… We stay in touch, he follows what I do. I go to see him quite often. We have maintained a relationship of trust. He is a very, very correct chef, very calm, very composed, someone very zen who has a presence and who respects people. »
He offers him a visa for prestigious positions: “Thierry Marx offered me an internship with him, at the Mandarin Oriental, a double Michelin star. Then he offered me a job. I accepted it. I stayed for a few months. » But the incessant back and forth between the capital and his family, in Guérande, complicates his life… “So he directed me to chef Éric Mignard, at Castel Marie-Louise, in La Baule [autre étoilé qui perd son macaron et le retrouve en 2021]. » She will return there to do extras, will frequent the Royal in La Baule, La Mare aux Oiseaux of the starred Éric Guérin, in Brière, will return to Paris to open the Marxito, then L’Étoile du Nord, by Thierry Marx, which she will assist also in the cooking show Les carnets de Julie, on France 3.
6,315 free meals for caregivers
Famous CV, to which are added two years as a chef in La Baule, at Stéphane Malhaire’s renowned Maison Pavie, until it closed last October. In the meantime, during the first confinement, in 2020, she stood out with a resounding initiative which definitively consolidated her place as leader, in a world dominated by men, not always kind to women. She has brought together her colleagues from the La Baule sector, to serve meals to caregivers: “They all said yes to me. It didn’t bother them at all to be led by a woman. I handled it all. We had a great time, they never disrespected me. Great chefs from here, very good in their field. In 24 days, we prepared 6,315 free meals”.
VIDEO. Ker Astou’s recipe on France 3 : snacked beef and its broth
A gesture of solidarity, like the restaurant she gave herself two years to open, where she intends to sometimes invite those who never go there. Perhaps she will serve her favorite recipes there, chicken yassa from Senegal and roast octopus who follow me everywhere. And this world cuisine that she loves, making it a point of honor to promote local products. “Because here, there is everything you need. » Starting with Guérande salt.