JEAN-GE­ORGES VON­GERICHTEN marks the first an­niver­sary of Mer­cato by ex­plain­ing the ori­gin of the Molten Choco­late Cake with SARAH ENGSTRAND

#Legend - - Refine / Epicurious -

JEAN-GE­ORGES VON­GERICHTEN is a ti­tan in the culi­nary scene, known not only for his mas­tery in the kitchen but also for his skills as a busi­ness­man and en­tre­pre­neur. Through­out his sto­ried ca­reer, he has cre­ated an em­pire of more than 30 restau­rants through­out the world, has earned enough stars to merit a con­stel­la­tion, and could fill a case with his awards.

Born and raised in France, Von­gerichten, or sim­ply Jean-Ge­orges as he's of­ten known, trained at three-starred restau­rants through­out his home coun­try be­fore trav­el­ling to Asia, where he fell in love with Eastern flavours — a facet that in­forms his menus around the globe. Celebri­ties and lead­ers flock to his restau­rants, and his epony­mous flag­ship, JeanGe­orges in Trump In­ter­na­tional Ho­tel and Tower is a favourite of United States Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

In town to cel­e­brate the first an­niver­sary of Mer­cato Hong Kong, his sec­ond ven­ture in Asia, Von­gerichten speaks with #leg­end about his work, av­o­cado toast and Ma­son jars.

You have more than 30 restau­rants around the world, serv­ing a va­ri­ety of cuisines. What con­nects your restau­rants and what makes them dis­tinctly Jean-Ge­orge’s restau­rants?

As a metic­u­lous and hands-on per­son, I like to be in­volved in all as­pects of my projects. From the front of house op­er­a­tions to the back of house de­signs, I work closely with de­sign­ers and con­sul­tants to cre­ate unique con­cepts. My restau­rants are also set apart from other restau­rants by the lit­tle de­tails and nu­ances. For in­stance, each project boasts L'Ob­ser­va­toire light­ing that helps craft the dis­tinct Jean-Ge­orges am­biance.

How do you choose your res­tau­rant lo­ca­tions and how long does it take to come up with a new con­cept?

In the past, I have been blessed with re­la­tion­ships that re­sult in su­perb busi­ness deals. My projects are of­ten in­spired and led by those valuable re­la­tion­ships. Each res­tau­rant's de­sign and de­vel­op­ment process gen­er­ally takes any­where from six t0 24 months.

You’re known for cre­at­ing the Molten Choco­late Cake. What in­spired the recipe?

My fa­mous Molten Choco­late Cake was cre­ated by ac­ci­dent. Dur­ing an event, we had baked too many choco­late cakes, lead­ing us to serve un­cooked cakes that oozed from their molten core. To my sur­prise, ev­ery­one loved it and it soon be­came a highly sought af­ter recipe.

You have a num­ber of celebrity guests, which of them do you think of as a true lover of food?

Who isn't? Each and ev­ery one of them visits my restau­rants be­cause they en­joy good food and love the flavours that we use.

What’s on your playlist right now?

My taste in music varies ac­cord­ing to what I am do­ing at present. I have an eclec­tic taste that fluc­tu­ates from clas­sics to Cold­play.

How would you de­scribe your per­sonal style when you’re not in the kitchen? Do you have any favourite brands?

When not in the kitchen, I dress in a sim­ple man­ner. Most of my clothes are black be­cause it's easy to match.

What other chefs around the world do you think are re­ally changing the in­dus­try for the bet­ter and do­ing amaz­ing things with their work?

I be­lieve that any chef who teaches with rev­er­ence and re­spect for qual­ity in­gre­di­ents is mak­ing an im­pact. Any­one who truly re­spects our craft is do­ing amaz­ing things with their work. All over the world, there are a lot of chefs who are mak­ing a dif­fer­ence daily by putting them­selves out there and be­ing creative with the culi­nary arts.

I won­der how you feel about these trends? Av­o­cado toast?

Sim­ply delicious.

Gold leaf.

Art­ful and beau­ti­ful when used cor­rectly and min­i­mally.

Chefs on Twit­ter?

Sure, why not? We chefs have im­pact­ful things to say too.

The rise of food porn and the grow­ing foodie gen­er­a­tion?

The love of food and its beauty is great but I'm not so sure about the fetishi­sa­tion.

Meals served in Ma­son jars.

If the food it­self is delicious, who am I to judge?

Tak­ing pic­tures of food be­fore eat­ing?

It's def­i­nitely a part of din­ing now.

Far left: Chef Von­gerichten Left: Mer­cato

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