A NIGHT TO RE­MEM­BER

The late Joël Robu­chon’s culi­nary prow­ess was cel­e­brated by his fam­ily of chefs in a mag­nif­i­cent trib­ute din­ner at his three-Miche­lin-star restau­rant at the Grand Lis­boa in Ma­cau

Prestige Hong Kong - - FEATURE - grandlis­boa­ho­tels.com

THE CULI­NARY WORLD lost one of its great­est minds in Au­gust. With more Miche­lin stars to his name than any other chef, not to men­tion be­ing a re­cip­i­ent of the Meilleur Ou­vrier de France in 1976 and hav­ing been named Chef of the Cen­tury by the French restau­rant guide Gault Mil­lau in 1989, Joël Robu­chon passed away at the age of 73. But with restau­rants around the world, his work has by no means died with him and there’s a bright fu­ture, as chefs he worked with over many decades have al­ready joined forces to cel­e­brate his im­pres­sive com­mand of the kitchen and of French cui­sine. High up in Ma­cau’s Grand Lis­boa – the ho­tel it­self a gas­tronome’s des­ti­na­tion, boast­ing seven Miche­lin stars un­der its roof – lies Robu­chon au Dôme. This fine-din­ing restau­rant, which of­fers mag­nif­i­cent views, has held three Miche­lin stars for 10 con­sec­u­tive years. And though the chef to whom it owes more than sim­ply its name may be gone, it was re­cently the lo­ca­tion in which mem­bers of Robu­chon’s culi­nary fam­ily came to­gether, de­ter­mined to con­tinue telling their men­tor’s story through his clas­sic dishes. In Oc­to­ber the Ma­cau restau­rant hosted the Robu­chon au Dôme Gala Din­ner 2018, in which the res­i­dent chef was joined by var­i­ous lead­ing chefs – all of whom worked with Robu­chon and share his

culi­nary DNA – in the metic­u­lous prepa­ra­tion of an eight-course din­ner in hon­our of the man who in­spired and in­flu­enced them. “I worked with him for 20 years,” says ex­ec­u­tive chef Julien Tongourian, who opened the very first L’ Ate­lier with Robu­chon in 2003 and who’s been at Robu­chon au Dôme since 2014. “He taught me that the pre­ci­sion in mak­ing each dish is im­por­tant and that we must cook with heart and pas­sion for our guests, just as if they’re our fam­ily. Here at Robu­chon au Dôme, I carry on his life’s work.” Tongourian was joined by Éric Bouchenoire, chef du lab­o­ra­toire de créa­tion et co­or­di­na­tion, a per­fec­tion­ist who’s also been hon­oured with the Meilleur Ou­vrier de France and who’d worked with Robu­chon since 1985; Tomonori Danzaki, chef con­seil, who opened Joël Robu­chon in Tokyo with the late chef and worked at a num­ber of his other restau­rants around the world; and François Benot, chef pâtissier con­seil from Joël Robu­chon In­ter­na­tional France, who joined Robu­chon in the open­ing of La Ta­ble in Paris. United in Ma­cau for one night only be­neath the restau­rant’s im­pres­sive chan­de­lier, which fea­tures more than 131,500 pieces of Swarovski crys­tal, the scene was beau­ti­fully set for a most mem­o­rable evening. “We care­fully de­signed this menu to pre­serve the au­then­tic­ity of Robu­chon’s work,” says Tongourian. “We want guests im­me­di­ately to recog­nise that each dish is the work of Mr Robu­chon, as he was in­spi­ra­tional for many peo­ple around the world.” The eight-course menu in­cluded three dishes that are un­mis­tak­ably Robu­chon and date back to his early days as a chef. These dishes are as cur­rent and con­tem­po­rary to­day as when they were first cre­ated – a tes­ta­ment to the chef’s pre­science. Le Caviar der Sologne is Robu­chon at his best. Cre­ated at the chef’s first restau­rant, Jamin, in the 1980s, the dish fea­tures caviar in a fine crus­tacean jelly with cau­li­flower cream. The dish was so pop­u­lar from the out­set that as Robu­chon’s renown grew and he be­gan to open restau­rants around the world, he took it with him. The dish be­came part of his iden­tity and it seemed only right

that it be served on this mo­men­tous oc­ca­sion. The dish’s beauty de­rives from the con­trast be­tween the pow­er­ful flavour of the caviar and the soft­ness of creamed cau­li­flower. The qual­ity of in­gre­di­ents was of ut­most im­por­tance to Robu­chon and his caviar was al­ways ex­pertly cho­sen for both size and tex­ture. His caviar of choice came from Sologne in France and, pre­pared in the clas­sic way, it was used for this event. Robu­chon was equally fas­tid­i­ous over prepa­ra­tion, which was of­ten la­bo­ri­ous. For this dish the chefs use veal feet to make the broth in a six-hour process, and for the lob­ster bouil­lon they in­cor­po­rate only the fresh meat of the lob­ster – and never the shell – to en­sure it’s clean and pure. The dish is el­e­vated to art in its pre­sen­ta­tion, with dots of sauce around the bowl – a sym­bol of Robu­chon’s per­fec­tion­ism and that of the chefs who learnt from him. La Langoustine also put Robu­chon’s prow­ess on dis­play. Com­pris­ing scampi ravi­oli with braised green Savoy cab­bage, this was one of the French chef’s first sig­na­ture dishes. At­lantic scampi is wrapped in a thin ravi­oli pas­try and sea­soned with truf­fles. There’s a del­i­cacy to the dish, with aro­mas of langoustine and truf­fle rep­re­sent­ing a bal­ance of land and sea. The ravi­oli is gar­nished with a light foie gras emul­sion, and served with braised green Savoy cab­bage on the side. The dish ex­em­pli­fies Robu­chon’s culi­nary phi­los­o­phy for sim­ple cui­sine that’s ex­tremely well ex­e­cuted and re­veals all the flavours of the var­i­ous in­gre­di­ents. Tech­nique has been an im­por­tant el­e­ment of Robu­chon’s culi­nary jour­ney and La Poularde de Bresse demon­strates his skills to great ef­fect. The dish com­prises French chicken cooked in pork blad­der in the most tra­di­tional of ways and was recre­ated by Tongourian for the Gala Din­ner. The chef used the clas­sic French en vessie tech­nique, which in­volves first poach­ing the chicken in an aro­matic broth then con­tain­ing it in a “bal­loon” and cook­ing it in the pig blad­der. It thus en­velops the chicken in steam and in­fuses it with all the blad­der’s flavours. While the tech­nique adds to the taste and en­sures the ten­der and juicy parts of the chicken are beau­ti­fully pre­served, the process also means din­ers ex­pe­ri­ence an el­e­ment of sur­prise in the dish’s pre­sen­ta­tion. The Robu­chon au Dôme Gala Din­ner was cer­tainly a night to re­mem­ber, dis­play­ing for din­ers Robu­chon’s life­long pur­suit of culi­nary per­fec­tion and the tech­ni­cal and emo­tional prow­ess of his culi­nary art. That four of his clos­est chefs so beau­ti­fully and metic­u­lously cre­ated this menu in Robu­chon’s hon­our not only shows the ad­mi­ra­tion and re­spect that this culi­nary lu­mi­nary en­joyed, but also proves that his le­gacy will en­dure through his restau­rants around the world.

FROM LEFT: LA LANGOUSTINE, LE CAVIAR DE SOLOGNE AND LA POULARDE DE BRESSE

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