Top chefs around the world are setting the stage for a new era in fine dining
From treating your senses to dishes made with the finest, rarest ingredients, to immersing in culinary service that leaves you feeling like royalty, the essence of fine dining is as rich and diverse as the exotic ingredients it showcases. Some two centuries following its radical beginning in the 1800s, fine dining continues to hold true to its revolutionary streak as a heady haute cuisine of new ideas and ingredients.
At the helm of this era of fine dining are revolutionaries such as the late multiMichelin-starred chef Joël Robuchon. Following an astounding career that saw chef Robuchon’s establishments receive acclaimed Michelin stars year after year, he then steered fine dining away from its starched tablecloths and elaborate decor with the comeback of the millennium in 2003—L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Paris.
There, instead of elaborate dining rooms with chefs hidden from diners, the restaurant featured counter seating, chef service and a smaller, but no less exquisite space, that once again transformed the fine dining scene.
From then on, chefs emerged from sealed kitchens where they previously had little to no interactions with service staff, let alone guests at the dinner table, finding their element in front of diners. This moved fine dining from the elusive and the obscure, into something that beckoned transparency throughout, bringing with it new movements such as farm-to-fork dining and the return to basics, albeit more refined.
CHANGING WITH THE TIMES
As two Michelin-starred Noma’s chef and co-owner Rene Redzepi observed in Lucky
Peach’s The State of Fine Dining, fine dining once referred to “a specific type of restaurant, where you’d get the best food”.
“But that’s not true anymore. Today, the best food sometimes is actually at Rosio’s or Superiority Burger, where you can have freshly cooked broccoli from the same market where the Per Se chefs shop,” he said.
Andre Soltner, a dean of Classic Studies at the International Culinary Center in New York also noted in the Lucky Peach report that fine dining is more than just “going to expensive restaurants because it’s chic”.
“For me, fine dining is when you sit down and you enjoy your food very, very much. For me, fine dining is to use the best ingredients, not sophisticated, the simplest possible, and all the rest comes after,” he elaborated in the interview.
From the chef’s perspective, fine dining kitchens provide a pertinent learning ground for chefs regardless of their ambition, chef Redzepi explained in the article. “For the most part, fine dining kitchens bring forth a high level of organisation and work ethic, and they also train people to be very good craftsmen. Cooks go through one or two years, being in all the seasons, butchering and doing all the hard work, and then many of them take the knowledge of flavour and organisation and put it into everyday environment,” he said.
AN ERA OF REDISCOVERY AND INNOVATION
Having moved from stiff dining rooms to spaces and kitchen concepts that are more fluid and relaxed, there’s clearly more room now for the likes of daily-changing menus, or a mix of prized old world wines served alongside selections of house-made infused liquors. Staples like butter, olive oil and even honey, are now taking the limelight as this fine dining liberation sees chefs presenting them in simple, yet equally unconventional ways.
Fortunately, these deviations from the traditional fine dining ideals are by no means harbingers of the end of the culinary style. Throughout the world, fine dining restaurants continue to push the envelope of reinvention, exploring new ingredients, cuisines and cooking techniques that keep diners returning for familiar flavours served with a side of new experiences.
Whether it’s enjoying a luxurious meal in posh settings and finery or witnessing a fusion of ingredients and culinary traditions from all over the world meet with Western techniques, or on some days, all of the above, one thing remains: fine dining’s endless pursuit for refinement continues to incite new industry trends that lend a sense of focus and, at the same time, challenge the norm.
“FOR ME, FINE DINING IS TO USE THE BEST INGREDIENTS, NOT SOPHISTICATED, THE SIMPLEST POSSIBLE, AND ALL THE REST COMES AFTER.”
Eventually, fine dining seeks to transcend the price tag and encompass the entire gustatory experience to become a homage to Mother Nature’s bounty, an artfully assembled setting for a gastronomic awakening, and a beguiling culinary narrative that stirs every human faculty—taste, smell, sight, sound and touch. These revolutionary establishments are paving the way for this with cuisine and experiences that change the way fine dining is perceived.
Housed in a fairy tale castle in the Swiss Alps and helmed by Swiss chef Andreas Caminada, the restaurant and six-room boutique hotel is situated in the historic village of Fürstenau, boasting only eight full-time residents, earning the title of the smallest town in the world. Chef Caminada fell in love with fine dining after visiting Jardin des Sens at the age of
20, and took over the then-empty castle in Fürstenau in 2003, when he was only 26 years old, to realise his vision of an all-around hospitality experience for his guests. When the restaurant first opened, the team only comprised four employees, but since then, chef Caminada has grown and developed the restaurant to a solid 40-man team, with a string of accolades including Michelin stars and a place in the World’s
50 Best list.
That said, Schloss Schauenstein is not just known for chef Caminada’s stunningly presented plates and creative cooking but also for its warm atmosphere and beautiful, romantic surroundings. Rather than focusing solely on his cooking, the young chef put his energy into developing a whole experience, making guests feel welcome from the minute they call to make a reservation, not just the moment they walk through the door.
Here, chef Caminada has created a menu that would enrich the senses, with dishes like beef tongue featuring different ingredients on each part of the tongue to reflect sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami sensations.
The meal begins with appetisers in one room, main courses in another and drinks and petit fours in a third part of the house—all part of chef Caminada’s effort to create a complete and multidimensional dining experience.
Located at Badrutt’s Palace Hotel in St Moritz, chef Andreas Caminada’s second restaurant IGNIV invites diners to a delectable fine dining-sharing experience with breathtaking views of Lake St Moritz and the Engadine Alps.
Open only in winter, IGNIV interiors of refined colour tones and elegant decor designed by Patricia Urquiola prove to be warm and inviting for family gettogethers and business dinners alike. The one-Michelin starred restaurant, awarded within a year of opening, boasts a meal-sharing experience where diners can help themselves to selection of some 30 different dishes served on small plates and platters.
Running the show at IGNIV is head chef Marcel Skibba, a member of chef Caminada’s team since 2015 and sous chef at the three-Michelin-starred Schloss Schauenstein, who focuses on serving diners original flavours and tastes of regional ingredients. The sharing menu starts with a three-course sharing experience, with options to add three to five ‘IGNIV surprise’ dishes. Starters and small appetisers range from langoustine and artichoke, to beef tartare and pike perch, while mains include deer, pork belly and the IGNIV fish soup. Desserts are a variety of treats such as chocolate and baked apple and cinnamon.
igniv.com TREEPOD DINING
Surrounded by lush greenery and sweeping ocean views, Senova Kiri Eco Resort’s Treepod Dining experience comes with personal zip-line acrobatic wait staff, all ready to serve up a fine dining experience like no other. Set atop the Koh Kood ancient rainforest in Thailand, diners can enjoy four different views with each meal, while nestled in bamboo pods some 30 feet above ground that each fits a party of up to four diners comfortably. Choose from a selection of dishes range from organic Thai cuisine and curries to fresh fruits and pastries that make for a wonderful dining experience among the trees.
Dishes from IGNIV
This page Diners at IGNIV get to watch chefs at work from the counter seats
Top Interior of Schloss Schauenstein