Executive Chef Francois Cantin
Born in Laval (North-West of France), Francois attended Hospitality School in Saint Nazaire – Lycee Saint-Anne, and Lycee Nicolas Appert in Nantes, specializing in culinary arts, and started his professional career in various locations throughout France, including Relais & Chateaux properties and Michelin-starred restaurants: La Bourride (2*) и Le Port Alma (1*).
“I did not really aspire to be a chef, neither did I cook with my Mom and Grandma, though she is a great cook. But my family went out to eat often, and from an early age I had the opportunity to try various dishes. I grew up in the countryside where food culture is very important. And each summer I went to Ile dYeu, a small island in Bay of Biscay, Atlantic Coast, where of course fish was in abundance. Food in general is a very important part of French identity. In culinary school, we were told that only 20% of us will remain in the profession, and I happen to be one of them.
After a few years of working in UK, starting in 2007 Francois started his professional stint in Russia and CIS: in Moscow Marriott and Hilton, the Ritz-Carlton in Almaty, Marriott Krasnaya Polyana in Sochi, Renaissance in Minsk and finally in St Petersburg, in Corinthia Hotel.
Francois Cantin’s culinary style is based on French classic cuisine, with maximum attention to quality seasonal products, which does not make his current assignment easy, but he is up for the challenge. One of his signature dishes is Meuniere Dover Sole – simple and classic Western France dish.
After a few years in Great Britain, Francois received an offer from Moscow, and having visited the city before and being ready for a change, he gladly accepted.
“I also love St Petersburg with its architecture and traditions, proximity to nature despite the size of the city, snowy winter and white nights. I also learned to love banya. As for traditional food, I do love various soups, buckwheat – an important staple, and when in the right mood, herring and potatoes – another very traditional Russian dish.
My guilty pleasure is unfortunately chocolate, it is borderline addiction. I cannot have just one piece – I will totally finish the whole thing. My favorite brand is Valhrona – great chocolate but hard to find here, so I make do with Ritter Sport or Lindt. You can also often find me at Astoria Chocolatier tasting new creations.
My task at Astoria is to cook delicious food. We have a good team in place and we will continue discovering quality products and new local suppliers. I believe in treating products with respect. I also believe it is possible to give products a twist based on current trends without losing the identity, and supporting contemporary Russian cuisine which is currently developing at an amazing pace".