Interview with Chef Léa Linster – Gold medal winner of the Bocuse d’Or

Acclaimed chef Léa Linster won a Michelin star in 1987 and owns three restaurants in Luxembourg: Restaurant Léa Linster, Au Quai de la Gare and Kaschthaus. She became a gold medal winner of the 1989 Bocuse d’Or, which made her the first  and to date only woman to ever accomplish this.  Our co-founder, Mecca Ibrahim, was lucky enough to speak to Mrs Linster about her inspirations and how she put Luxembourgian cuisine on a global map with her achievements.

Lea Linster

What are the biggest highlights of your career?

I took over my father’s restaurant in Frisange in southern Luxembourg when I was about 25/ 26 in 1982. I had said when I was young I would bring a Michelin star to the village and within five years,  we had a Michelin star in 1987.

Winning Bocuse d’Or was a true highlight of my career, as it meant global recognition. But the inspiration for the Bocuse d’Or was easy for me as I made everything that I loved. My standards of quality are very high. As a child we traveled a lot for food, and always for the best ingredients.

Now I have passed on that love of food and passion for quality ingredients to my son Louis who has taken over the family restaurant and runs it with dynamism, talent and great pride.

Lea Linster and her son Louis Linster

Who are some of the chefs that have inspired you the most?

Joel Robuchon, who I used to work with and there is no one quite like him. I also admire the French chefs and  restaurateur brothers  Pierre and Jean Troisgro, Swiss chef Frédy Girardet and of course Paul Bocuse.

Lea Linster Cookbook

Tell us about your new book My Life, My Recipes / Mein Leben, Meine Rezepte?

It has old favourite recipes, and ones that are important to me and many  that have never been published before. It is a collection recipes that have brought me to where I am today.

This results in a very personal cookbook, so to speak, and is my life in recipes. I’d like to dedicate it to Paul Bocuse, but also to all my critics, role models and, of course, guests who have accompanied me on my journey so far.

Lea Linster

What are some of your favourite dishes? 

I love potatoes. Good potatoes with good butter and some sea salt can be one of the best dishes for me. In Luxembourg we have some of  the best butter in the world.  Also “Saddle of Lamb Bocuse d’Or” is my signature dish.  I have a saying:  “First I made my lamb and then my lamb made me.”

Lea Linster at Bocuse D'Or in 2019

What advice do you have for today’s chefs?

Follow your heart and follow your palate.  You should always love what you do and follow your feelings and your instincts. Your favourite dish is probably one that you will make the most famous.

Lea Linster with Bocuse D'or Chefs

Do you have any particular advice for fellow female chefs?

Women need to have a warrior mentality and have confidence. Also be yourself and don’t let either success or failure torment you.

You can follow Lea Linster’s restaurants  on Instagram at @restaurantlealinster  and on Facebook  at @RestaurantLeaLinster

Catch up with our interview & podcast with Ruth Hansom on what it was like competing in this year’s UK National selection for Bocuse d’Or. You may also like to read our other  features with female chefs and owners of restaurants – Pomona’s, Shola, The Parkers Arms and Romulo Cafe. We also interviewed Katie Chesney Head of Marketing at the STK Steakhouse group of restaurants EMEA. Plus you can listen to our podcast with Katie Chesney  and our podcast with chef  Luciana Berry very kindly put together by our friend James Haywood of OpenKitchen

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