Top Chef winner reveals what he’ll do with his winnings

Yes! It is enormous ! It is time that cuts itself off. That’s crazy ! Honestly, today is the best day of my life. There are so many emotions going through my head. It is the accomplishment of all these years of work. This is just the beginning.” It is an understatement to say thatHugo Riboulet let his joy burst by winning season 14 of Top chef. At just 24 years old, the young man from Ardèche pockets the sum of 54,810 euros, a sum proportional to the percentage of voters in his favor. His journey in Top chefhis links with Philippe Etchebest, his victory… Hugo Riboulet confided in Tele-Leisure during a long interview he gave us.

Hugo Riboulet, winner of Top Chef 2023 : what Philippe Etchebest brought him

Tele-Leisure : In what state of mind did you approach this final of Top chef ?

Hugo Riboulet : I really did not expect to come to this one day. When I arrived at the George V, I said to myself: “Wow, that’s it, I’m there!“. When I signed up, I simply said to myself: “Try not to come out first, then go your own way“To arrive in the last two, it’s a crazy thing!

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At what point in the season did you imagine yourself in the final?

I think that’s when I did the plate flipped (just before the quarter-finals, editor’s note), which gave me confidence. Then when I continued with the dish with the heart of lamb. That’s when I said to myself that, if I took charge of my cooking, I had a chance of going to the final and that I had to give it my all.

Concretely, what did chef Etchebest bring you throughout the season?

Already, his experience, his blue-white-red collar, his technicality. He has been doing it for more than ten years Top chef, so he knows the inner workings. He knows what jurors expect. This has often allowed me to refocus and to go to the essentials in order to surprise them. At the start of the competition, I let myself be a little impressed, but afterwards I trusted myself a lot more and he was able to listen to me. He intervened more and more on technical aspects than on the creative aspect of the recipe.

What is the Etchebest paw?

(He thinks for a long time.) Competition style, like me! We weren’t there to string the pearls. When we arrived at the decisive phases, from the moment we were only six, the link really tightened. The objective, from the quarters, it was the final or nothing.

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Top chef : Hugo Riboulet reveals the “little hiccups” in the kitchen during the final

How did you experience this final precisely?

It was hard ! Coming from a three star restaurant and having only done starred restaurants before, I have never made a hundred covers in my life. We, for forty covers, we are twelve-fifteen cooks behind. This is another organization that I don’t know at all. It was really “welcome to the unknown”. The menu, we did it in three days: creating the menu, testing the dishes, technical sheets, orders… We didn’t have much time.

Did everything go well or were there little problems that we did not see?

No, there were a few hiccups, because I wish it had been done differently. But even I had an oversight of ten servings of one thing on the sweet part. I caught up but it was DIY! We had to cheat, as Jean would say. These are the vagaries of the final, we cannot control everything. But I knew how to bounce back. My colleagues and I gave 400% and that’s the main thing.

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Four months passed between the final dinner and the knife ceremony. What did you think about during this time?

It’s four months, it was complicated. We tell ourselves that everything will depend on this final. Already at the financial level, the impact it will have on our lives. We are bound by this expectation and it is not easy to carry out projects. I remade the film all the same, wondering what I had my chances on but also telling myself each time that it was useless to dwell on it. I don’t think there’s a day when you don’t think about it.

Hugo Riboulet wins Top Chef 2023 against Danny Khezzar: “I had conditioned myself to lose

You seem surprised at the verdict when you pull the steel blade…

I was really set to lose. I had conditioned myself by telling myself that I had lostnot to be disappointed because I am a great competitor. I had even told my relatives that I thought I had lost. That’s why there are so many emotions in the room when I draw the knife. Everything has been overwhelmed. I don’t even know if I realize yet!

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What are you going to do with your winnings?

I’m going to buy myself a Porsche. (He bursts out laughing.) No I’m kidding ! I will invest some money in the concept of street food for which I associated with Albane. But I will also put a lot of money aside for future projects. 50,000 euros is a nice sum of money, but it goes away very quickly when you create things. It’s not a million either!

Tell us more about this restaurant project with Albane…

It is a new concept in France and almost abroad. It will be located in the 2nd in Sentier, rue Saint-Sauveur. We buy the business. If it works, the objective is to duplicate it elsewhere in France. The time to release the funds, we will have the keys in mid-September. Then there should be a month and a half of work for an opening in November. Before that, we will present the project in preview at the Lyon Street Food Festival on June 17 and 18.

And by then?

This summer, I will be doing a four-day residency in Lyon where I will offer dishes to share to show off my cooking, as well as two dates for a four-hander in Annecy, at Cortil, the ephemeral restaurant set up in the garden of Clos des Sens. (where he worked until now, editor’s note). I will also do a week-long residency with Masashi Ijichi, my former boss, to do something in my native region. And I’m waiting to see the proposals that will fall…

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