Fre nch Flair

Culi­nary mas­ter Pierre Gag­naire ex­plains why he de­cided to per­son­ally op­er­ate the re­sort’s French fine-din­ing venue, La Mai­son 1888

Hong Kong Tatler - - Life -

Pierre Gag­naire, the sto­ried mas­ter chef who is touted as one of the most in­flu­en­tial of all time, is vis­i­bly ex­cited. He’s scrolling through his iphone, play­ing blasts of soul and old-school rhythm ’n’ blues by Otis Red­ding and Canned Heat. Mu­sic is a huge pas­sion for this fine-din­ing gi­ant and he uses it to re­lax ahead of big mo­ments—such as his in­au­gu­ral din­ner at La Mai­son 1888, the plush restau­rant of the In­ter­con­ti­nen­tal Danang Sun Penin­sula Re­sort.

La Mai­son 1888, de­signed as a stately home for a fic­tional fam­ily of glo­be­trot­ting mis­fits with eclec­tic tastes, is a strangely ap­pro­pri­ate stage for Gag­naire’s style of cui­sine, which sees lo­cal in­gre­di­ents col­lide with un­ex­pected coun­ter­point flavours, a tech­nique that has made him ex­tremely pop­u­lar among the cur­rent crop of star chefs.

Gag­naire, in his heav­ily ac­cented but en­er­getic, ex­pres­sive English, de­scribes why he ac­cepted the job: “I am a fan of Viet­namese food. It is del­i­cate, healthy. Very hum­ble but el­e­gant,” he en­thuses, be­fore de­scrib­ing how nine years ear­lier he ex­pe­ri­enced his Eureka mo­ment while eat­ing a sim­ple shrimp and mint dish at a farm in the Danang area.

He ex­plains, “Viet­nam is a fan­tas­tic coun­try for food cul­ture and also its re­la­tion­ship with France. There are many Viet­namese restau­rants all around France—viet­namese food is very in­volved in the cul­ture of France. What I hope to cre­ate at La Mai­son 1888 is a real sig­na­ture that re­spects the cul­ture of the area. I also want to cre­ate the op­por­tu­nity for guests to taste my style.” To achieve this, Gag­naire him­self will spend one week, three or four times per year, in the kitchen to per­son­ally cre­ate the dishes; at other times of the year, his hand-picked team will run the restau­rant. The chef is fa­mous for build­ing and re­tain­ing loyal tal­ent across his nu­mer­ous op­er­a­tions, and La Mai­son 1888 should be no dif­fer­ent.

He con­cludes, “I will give an op­por­tu­nity to my team, who love what they do. We have the feel­ing that we are not work­ing for the com­pany, but for the guests.”

“WHAT I HOPE TO CRE­ATE AT LA MAI­SON 1888 IS A REAL SIG­NA­TURE THAT RE­SPECTS THE CUL­TURE OF THE AREA. I ALSO WANT TO CRE­ATE THE OP­POR­TU­NITY FOR GUESTS TO TASTE MY STYLE”

Pierre Gag­naire’s style of cui­sine— vi­brant dishes that com­bine lo­cal pro­duce with deft, un­ex­pected coun­ter­points—is per­fect for the eclec­tic set­ting of La Mai­son 1888

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