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French Cuisine's Feminine Touch

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He lived by the highway. And under its influence, dreamt of becoming an auto mechanic. But destiny and genes had another plan for Jacques Pic -- taking over the family business.

His daughter shared her father's destiny. After testing the waters of the business world, Anne Sophie Pic returned to take her place in the family business. At the stove.

Now the only female french chef awarded three Michelin stars since Mere Brazier in 1933, Anne Sophie continues the culinary dynasty that is "Maison Pic."

Although virtually every famous (male) French chef will be the first to admit his cuisine is based on "Cuisine Grandmere"(Grandma's cookin') -- ironically you can count the number of high profile female french chefs on one hand. And still have three fingers left.

The "Pic-story" begins in 1889, when Sophie Pic opened l'Auberge du Pin in the village of Saint Peray, wowing the locals with her sautéed rabbit and black pudding. Son Andre inherited her place at the stove, earning his third Michelin star in 1934. Relocating to the "Big Smoke" -- the city of Valence in 1936, next to a major highway (national 7) -- understandably increased Andre's client base. His third Michelin star, lost during the war, was regained in 1973, as the next in line, son Jacques, forsaking his dream of carburetors and spark plugs, donned the Pic apron. His integration of new culinary trends, particularly sauces and fish, put "Maison Pic" on the map Internationally.

Today, it's his daughter, Anne Sophie at the helm of the good ship Pic. Seconded by her Husband, handling the business affairs. Anne Sophie's cooking style/philosophy has, as you would expect, much in common with the Fathers of French Cuisine. Particularly Careme and Escoffier with their emphasis on enhancing natural flavours. Not smothering them with rich sauces. Accordingly, Anne Sophie is heavy on the veg. and fish -- light on the meat.

In fact, light, fresh and simple would be the three best adjectives to describe her cuisine. Always a delicate balance of seasonings, subtle enhancements and superb presentation. The mark of a true professional. Making it all seem simple, easy and natural.

While cooking is indeed an art -- selling cooking is indeed a business. And if you're in that business -- what better "poster girl" than a three star chef? And so, logically, Maison Pic is well and truly "au courant" with all aspects of 21st Century marketing. In addition to Hotel/Restaurant Pic, there is also Bistro Pic("Le 7 "- after National 7), Seminar Facilities Pic, Cooking School Pic, and supremely important in this age of internet commerce and "branding" -- Estore Pic.

Anne Sophie is also an Author. Having written "Au Nom du Pere." Equally a tribute to her late Father, a History of the Pic family and her journey within it.

While her quiet, reserved manner gives the impression of shyness, Anne Sophie is, to use that abnoxious Americanism -- a "people person." Because her "job satisfaction" comes from making people happy.

Naturally, Anne Sophie has incredible Stamina and Vision, as every Chef must -- but with a humility that belies her considerable achievements. When those who don't know her ask her job, Anne Sophie replies -- "I'm the cook."

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