LUX­URY RE­DE­FINED

Top chefs around the world are set­ting the stage for a new era in fine din­ing

Wine & Dine - - CONTENTS - WORDS MICHELLE YEE

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.

SCHLOSS SCHAUENSTEIN

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.

schauenstein.ch IGNIV

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.

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Dishes from IGNIV

This page Din­ers at IGNIV get to watch chefs at work from the counter seats

Top In­te­rior of Schloss Schauenstein

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