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Its sudden limelight coincided with a dark period. After his secrets about his debut with Cyril Lignac, Norbert Tarayre spoke about a painful subject in the podcast Anatomy of a Leader : the difficult period he experienced after his brilliant career in the third season of Top Chef in 2012. Third in the competition won that year by Jean Imbert, he who now heads the Prince of Wales restaurant, took the full burden of his increasing popularity to the point of endangering his health due to excessive alcohol consumption. “After Top Chef, my life has changed, that’s for sureanalyzes Norbert i Anatomy of a Leader. I knew this feeling of celebrity, this feeling of being loved, of being untouchable and that everything works out.Unfortunately, he would quickly become disillusioned.
Just after the third season of Top Chef, M6 took advantage of the popularity and participation of the duo that had particularly impressed the viewers: Jean Imbert and Norbert Tarayre, the winner and the third in the competition. The young chefs thus inherited their own show, Norbert et Jean le Défi, which was to take them on a journey throughout France. A great opportunity, which, however, marked the beginning of problems for Norbert. “We were on tour for our show Norbert and Jean: the challenge. And in the evening I went heavy on the drink. Jean was more measured, more introverted. I was insatiablehe says in the podcast. And then I pushed, pushed, pushed too much…“
The young chef adopts a rhythm that quickly becomes problematic: “ Every night in the hotel rooms I would drink a bottle. No water, but a bottlehe reveals. I was young, a little stupid, but like anyone who discovers a new world. You don’t measure the thing, you don’t control it, you don’t master it. And one moment you wake up in pain. You no longer have any clarity, alcohol makes you high.“Until his body said stop.
Without going into detail, Norbert Tarayre explains that it was a medical diagnosis that brought him back to reality. “Honestly, when they tell me I’m not in good shape, I get slappedhe confides. Because it’s true that when you’re a little more “known”, you think you’re an untouchable guy. And then suddenly it hurts. The results are not very good. I’m told that if I go on, I won’t go on for long.“
This is the beginning of a cruel realization: “The first thing I thought of was my wife, he recalls. And you don’t want to see your children grow up, you don’t want to take them to the hotel, you don’t want to be a grandparent, you don’t want the joy of looking after the grandchildren. You watch your life go by. The one you won’t get if you don’t stop your bullshit.” This accelerated vision of a dark future was the starting point for his recovery, refocusing on what he loved above all: cooking.
In retrospect, Norbert analyzes this period as the consequence of a deeper anxiety: “I didn’t realize the pressure I had put on myself. There is a syndrome, this syndrome is the syndrome of failure. I knew him like all those who do creative workhe believes. So either you rise or you sink. You have depression, and then you take stock of your life. You realize that nothing is going well, you are all alone. I have almost forgotten the taste for simple gestures, for cooking, for carving, for cooking, for the art of the table. I had forgotten who I was”. A strong testimony to a period that is fortunately far behind him.