Laurent Loudeac trained in classical French cuisine in the Loire Valley, and after working in hotels and restaurants in Switzerland, London and Sydney as well as France, says he has "an open attitude to food”. He was head chef at Hummingbird before establishing Hippopotamus Restaurant at Wellington’s quirky boutique Museum Hotel two years ago. Laurent has won awards for his fine French food with modern flair, most recently the Kapiti Chef Collection Supreme Award 2009 for a unique Kapiti Kikorangi tortellini dish, "blending traditional flavours with unexpected combinations for palate interest”. At heart, every Frenchman responds to comforting family French food, sometimes called cuisine grandmère. Laurent will share some of his favourite dishes, perfectly crafted for lazy evenings in front of a fire, with a glass or three of good red wine and the company of friends. Of course, a French chef will not be able to resist adding those special techniques, ingredients and touches of culinary creativity from northern and southern hemispheres that transform the food from ordinaire to superbe, and which will delight your guests.