Karen Mok gets into the spirit of Martell’s anniversary celebrations
One of the guests of honour at Martell’s tricentennial dinner was Hong Kong actress and singer Karen Mok, who earlier worked with the brand to create a cocktail for the iconic Bar du Plaza Athénée in Paris. Inspired by her Welsh, Chinese and Persian heritage, and her penchant for citrus flavours and floral scents, bar manager Thierry Hernandez worked with Mok to create the Martell Mok-tail—an intriguing blend of Martell Noblige and green tea balanced with elderflower liqueur, jasmine-infused syrup and lemon juice. “It was a lot of fun to make your own magic potion,” says Mok. “Thierry is brilliant and did some background research on me, so he found out what I liked. We tried different mixes and settled on one that has an Asian touch.”
As well as dabbling in mixology and being a VIP guest at the Versailles dinner, Mok stayed at Martell’s elegant Château de Chanteloup in Cognac, where she got to feed the deer that roam the grounds. Before the dinner, she had a private tour of Marie Antoinette’s chambers and gleaned some inspiration for the stage from the palace’s famed Hall of Mirrors.
“Being at the Palace of Versailles was wonderful. I can just imagine my stage looking like the Hall of Mirrors; I would be over the moon,” she says. “And the dinner was stupendous. The whole emotional journey you go on through the dinner was very well-thought-out—stunning.”
jar, honoured the vineyards that produce the grapes for cognac. The sauce, which included yogurt, cumin, garlic oil and salted lime, was Pairet’s take on grapevines, images of which climbed the walls as the dish was served. “People tend to forget that cognac is made from grapes, so I wanted to celebrate the vineyard. I recreated the vineyard in the jar and paired it with Martell XO.”
Distillery workers were the inspiration for the next course, teriyaki glazed Australian wagyu beef served with a smooth St Hugo Vetus Purum Shiraz 2010. Images of Martell’s copper stills and the sounds of the distillery accompanied the dish. “The fifth course was like an invitation into Martell’s atelier, to share a moment with the people that work every day to produce the cognac,” said Pairet.
For dessert, the chef drew from the classic lemon tart. A hollowed-out lemon cooked in such a way as to render it sweet and tender was filled with a citrus-flavoured cream and the plate garnished with a stick of pastry. “I wanted to pay homage to the lemon by taking the flavours of a lemon tart—one of the best pastry recipes, in my opinion—and put it back inside the fruit.” The tart was paired with a new and rare blend—the Martell Premier Voyage—as rows of bottles of Martell’s various blends appeared on the walls and
the fragrance of oranges drifted on the air. “Martell Premier Voyage has strong opening notes of candied peel, blackcurrant, honey and gingerbread, so it goes very well with the lemon tart,” Pairet said.
The experience ended with an insight into the French way of life with The Little Sunday Cake Box—a small box containing miniature versions of classic French pastries such as millefeuille. “In France, the art de vivre [art of living] can also refer to simple pleasures, such as relaxing on a cafe terrace. It has a lot to do with your memories and experiences around food,” Pairet explained. “And for a lot of people, Sundays are for visiting their parents and the family dinner. Pastries are a popular thing to bring to a family dinner—and I took that idea and turned it into a portable version of the mignardises [ petits fours].”
Done well, mignardises cement the memory of a meal for diners. With that simple cake box, Pairet capped the evening’s experience with another innovative take on food and Martell’s embodiment of the art de vivre. “At Ultraviolet, we try to tell a story with the experience, and the concept is a perfect way to showcase Martell’s 300 years of history in a modern way,” Pairet said. “It was a very interesting challenge for us—to tailor the idea and turn it into a homage to Martell.”
As each dish was matched with various elements, one waiter was required for every three guests to get the timing of the seven courses right