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Out Of The Frying Pan: Eric Moreau, 63 Degrees

Alaka Prodhan with part two of new column finding out what makes city chefs tick

Written by . Published on October 29th 2012.

Out Of The Frying Pan: Eric Moreau, 63 Degrees

ERIC MOREAU is the head chef at 63 Degrees, a family-run French restaurant nestled between Market Street and the Northern Quarter. Together with his son, Alexandre, Eric’s aim is to bring a taste of Paris to his adopted home city.

What’s your favourite dish on the 63 Degree menu at the moment?

Normally I would say the chicken, because it’s my signature dish – all my customers know this dish very well now. But otherwise, for the meat, I would say the lamb, with a tartin (tart) of aubergine and sun-dried tomatoes. The tomatoes, I prepare in the kitchen myself. And for the fish – the black bream with orzo pasta and veal juice.

What’s your favourite pudding?

From my menu, I would say the chocolate orb. When you pour hot chocolate onto it, you make a wonderful discovery inside.

What’s your favourite fruit?

In summer: strawberries. We have a dessert in France called fraisier – it’s a strawberry cake. But I don’t do mine like a cake. I serve it in a Martini glass, with crème patissière, strawberries and shortbread, topped with a swirl of light, whipping cream and strawberry syrup. In winter, my favourite fruit is mango.

Lamb at 63 DegreesLamb at 63 Degrees

What’s your favourite vegetable?

The pea. One of my signature dishes which is popular with my customers is the pea cream served with prawn. The taste of fresh peas is wonderful.

What’s your favourite cut of meat?

I love veal. My favourite cut is the quasi de veau. But I prefer the white veal from France to the pink veal that you find here. White veal is from very young calves fed on their mother’s milk; pink veal is when the calves are older and fed on grass. The texture is very different. For lamb, I love cannon. And for beef, my favourite is cutlet – a big one, maybe 750g or one kilo, to share between two people.

Do you prefer Chinese or Indian?

I would say Indian immediately. I like all the different kinds of spices and flavours. It’s a country I don’t know – I’ve never been – but I would love to go with my wife someday. But if you asked me to choose between Japanese and Indian, then I don’t know.

Your guilty pleasure?

Bellota-Bellota. It’s a Spanish ham – this particular kind of pig is fed on acorns. You can find it in Marks & Spencer. It’s not very good for your health but I love it.

What’s the biggest mistake chefs can make when starting to learn the trade?

When you are young, you think you know everything – this is bad. Because in this job, you learn every day. Starting out, it’s good to want to be the best, but it’s not good to think you are the best, or that you know it all. When you have 3 Michelin stars, you can say you are the best, because other people think you are too.

In France, we say we are the best all the time. And I think we need to stop doing that. The guys I respect the most are the ones who never say they are the best. I think it’s good to be simple. When you stay simple, and work with the freshest produce, then all your customers will recognise the quality.

What's your favourite meal ever?

My grandmother was a great cook. I love her pot au feu – a beef stew. You cook it for a long time with vegetables, and you have the beef on the bone in the middle. Another one is blanquette de veau, a French veal ragout – it’s simple and classic, but when done properly it’s really good.  

What’s your idea of a perfect service session?

For me, it’s when all my customers are enjoying themselves. Quality is really important to me. On the floor, I think when the produce is fresh and of high quality, and the staff are aware of this, then service should not be a problem.

What inspired you to become a chef?

I first knew I wanted to be a chef when I was six years old. My grandparents used to take me on a lot of holidays, and one time they took me to a Michelin-starred restaurant in the south of France. After we finished our meal, that’s when I told my grandfather that I wanted to be a chef.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I like to cook for my customers. For me, it’s a passion. I see my customers as friends and my restaurant as my home. When you bring that kind of attention to your food, then your guests can taste the passion in the dishes.

Bream machineBream machine

And the least?

I can’t think of anything! I really enjoy my job. I make what I want. I had a tricky relationship with my supplier at the beginning, but it’s been six months now and it’s fine.

What is the craziest moment of your career?

I think it has to be when I was young, when I first began my career. You start out at school and at home, surrounded by family, with your mum telling you that everything will be ok. But then once you’re in the restaurant business, it’s so different; it’s such a big change. You’re surrounded by a lot of people who are very experienced, who have been in the business for twenty, thirty years. And it’s really hard. I finished school at sixteen and started out as an apprentice. I was working around seventeen hours a day. And if you don’t have the determination to succeed, then your career is short-lived. Luckily I was determined, and I had a head chef who believed in me. And here I am.

63 Degrees is at 20 Church Street, City, M41PN. 0161 832 5438.     

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6 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

food for thoughtOctober 29th 2012.

Do you want any thyme with your lamb?

Billy KaplanOctober 29th 2012.

This man is a great chef, I love his food and the artistry he shows in cooking. Should have won, at least, the food and drink festival newcomer this year. We are lucky to have him in Manchester.

Dave ThackerayOctober 30th 2012.

This is exactly the kind of editorial content I love to read. So fascinating and absorbing. Great job!

dottiedogOctober 30th 2012.

More articles like this please.
A great insight into what inspires a chef serving fabulous food. A wonderful restaurant & I have always enjoyed great food & service on every visit.

IanOctober 30th 2012.

I'm surprised it has stayed open, only because it always seems empty?

Looking forward to the next visit though. Have to try that Tuesday offer

1 Response: Reply To This...
RevaulxNovember 5th 2012.

The food and the service are absolutely top-notch, but it's a bit barn-like and I don't think the location is great. I'm sure that if it were somewhere cosier it would do better. Really hope it survives....

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