The reputation of the restaurant Le Puits Saint-Jacques, the only restaurant (twice) starred in the Gers in the Michelin Guide, in Pujaudran precedes it. Chef William Candelon, who took over the reins of the establishment in 2020, puts the small dishes in the big ones while perpetuating with passion, a certain family tradition. Tale of a culinary epic.
It is 9:30 a.m. this morning of Friday, May 20, in Pujaudran. The streets are quiet, empty of people. But at 57 avenue Victor Capoul, a bustle betrays this tranquility. At this address, the restaurant Le Puits Saint-Jacques is already preparing its lunch service. A few hours before the opening, the tables have to be set, the arrival of customers prepared and the first cooking started. In the kitchen, there are about fifteen of them seasoning, chopping, cooking and kneading to highlight the gastronomic flavors of old recipes brought up to date by the starred chef, William Candelon.
A clear path
Humility, passion and tradition, three words to describe the master of the place. Because cooking is his whole life. A family saga of which he is the main character, and which begins during his youth. Coming from a family of restaurateurs, he made a name for himself with a hotel-restaurant bar on the other side of the Gersoise border, in the Tarn-et-Garonne, but also on the Toulouse side with a restaurant, “Chez Tatie Danielle “, held by his mother, Danièle Bach.
“I never asked myself the question of what I wanted to do, I was already in the kitchens to help out on the weekends, to bring the bread to the tables, to peel the carrots” – William Candelon
Smells, cooking apples, preparing tarts: so many memories remembered by William Candelon who, in college, had only one thing in mind: cooking.
A passage by the hotel school of Castelsarrasin as well as a CAP pastry and caterer later and everything is linked. The one who will be at the head of a two-star establishment first rubs shoulders with the greats of the industry: Claude Taffarello, Michel Guérard or Alain Ducasse, with whom he will learn.
In 2002, the Puits Saint-Jacques adventure
19 years ago, while he was in Saint-Barth, William Candelon received a call from his uncle, the leader of the Puits Saint Jacques, Bernard Bach. “He told me that his second was leaving and that he needed someone to do a six-month replacement,” explains the chef. Return to Pujaudran on Tuesday, start of the adventure on Thursday. The beginnings turn out to be complicated, however: between the generational shock with his uncle and a difficult integration, he has to prove himself.
“First day, 140 kilos of sea bream to lift, 40 covers, that calmed me down” – William Candelon
But with his training, William Candelon very quickly joined the pastry department of the restaurant. “With what I liked, I made assemblies and I started to develop the pastry of the Puits Saint-Jacques”, he indicates. Under the convinced eyes of his uncle, he continued his experiments before returning to the kitchen alongside Bernard Bach as a second. From pastry, to meat, to fish, William Candelon now masters all the positions.
A star later, a new chef in the kitchen
In 2008, the establishment obtained its second star in the Michelin guide. “A week later, he declares me head chef,” says William Candelon. For a few years, he ran the kitchen alone, with rigor and passion. But the burden is heavy and the responsibility weighs on the shoulders of the new chef who must now do everything to keep these two stars. “In 2015, I reached intellectual and physical saturation,” he says.
But with the support of his uncle, the development of new menus, culinary experiments, a revisited cuisine between tradition and modernity imbued with a touch of lightness and citrus fruits, everything is going for the best. The restaurant offers a taste journey appreciated by customers who gladly give the establishment an almost perfect score on the Google review platform.
Two-star gastronomic restaurant but here I do not hesitate to put five – Bruno
In 2020, Bernard Bach offered his nephew to take over the restaurant. A proposal and a legacy that testify to the relationship and unfailing trust between the two renowned chefs. “We were very fusional,” says William Candelon.
From the transmission of a passion to that of a restaurant, there is ultimately only one step, taken after twenty years and many adventures by William Candelon.