One of my favorite food memories was at a tiny hole-in-the-wall cafe in the Latin Quarter in Paris as a teenager. It wasn’t just that the food was much more refined than what I was used to – it was the whole ambience of being in a foreign country and tasting strange new flavors. While I’ve been able to get back to France a number of times since then, the memory of that meal, one of my first experiences with French cuisine ever, is as comforting to me as a warm blanket on a winter’s day. With the proverb “If Mohammed can’t get to the mountain then the mountain must come to Mohammed” in mind, I jumped at the opportunity when Oi Vietnam was invited to a mini-master class with Michelin-star Chef Jerome Laurent, owner of the restaurant Cilantro in Arles, France.
On this, his first visit to Vietnam, Chef Jerome brings his take on clean French and Mediterranean flavors to the Saigon Sofitel Plaza this week. With previous visits to the Shangri-La in Abu Dhabi, the Mandarin Oriental in Jakarta and the Swissotel in Moscow, Chef Jerome describes Vietnam as “somewhere in the middle of laid back Phnom Penh and crazy Jakarta. Saigon is just electric. There’s more of everything – traffic, new buildings… It’s a city of the future.”
Chef Jerome’s food philosophy is to let the flavors shine through. “People say my food is almost feminine. I don’t use too much oil or cream. I want to keep it light. People can come in for lunch and then go back to work without feeling heavy.”
For our class, Chef Jerome demonstrates, a heavenly combination of the saltiness of the goose liver, the sweetness of the pear, the acidity of the balsamic chicken jus reduction to cut through the fattiness and the soft texture of the buttery porcini marmalade.
The second dish had visual wow factor. Chef Jerome meticulously placed tiny discs of potato over red mullet fillets, replicating the look of scales. Pan-fried and placed over a bed of sautéed arugula, the dish was finished off with a bouillabaisse sauce. This dish was lovely with the red of the grilled peppers and the green of the arugula. But don’t let the colors fool you. “Many of my dishes are ungarnished because they don’t need it. I’m not going to put a piece of tomato on just for color. Every component has to make sense.”
L’Olivier Restaurant, everyday from 19 to 23 March 2013 with dishes such as “White asparagus Vichyssoise”, “Coco Tarbais beans, scallops in a lemongrass and combava bouillon”, “Red mullet coated with potato scales and a bouillabaisse reduction” ,“Lamb a la Provencal, Thyme roasted braised shoulder of tenderloin, seasonal vegetables and soft potatoes” , “Pigeon in cocoa sauce” and “Peanut-chocolate mille-feuille served with a sweet pepper ice cream”.
Business Lunch menu exclusive at VND 680,000
Special A la Carte and Gourmet Menu at VND 1,420,000
Cooking class starting at 10:30 am on Saturday 23 March at VND 680,000 per person including lunch
Contact: email@example.com / tel: 08 3824 1555