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THE FLEMISH REVOLUTION-BELGIUM CHEFS: MICHAËL VRIJMOED

I am interested for four years by the emergence of some Flemish chefs. Initially I saw it as some “Électrons libres” in the Kingdom of Belgium, but after my first (2-3) interviews with Filip Claeys, Kobe Desramaults, Gert De Mangeleer, I understood that it was much more … Beyond the media trend to always seek “the Next Big Thing”, there are actually in Flanders a lot of creativity, an uniqueness and a willingness by the chefs to highlight an often overlooked “terroir”.

Many of these chefs have done an internship at Oud Sluis restaurant (chef Sergio Herman) but the chef Michael Vrijmoed comes rather from the other school, that of great chef Peter Goossens (Hof Van Cleve). It is after eight years as Sous chef at Hof Van Cleve that this young chef (33 years old) decided to open his own restaurant, Vrijmoed in Ghent. Besides his talent and his creativity, it is this longevity that struck me, it is rare to see in 2013 a young chef stay as long in a restaurant!

Vrijmoed loves its “terroir” and it is perceived in its plates. The dishes are originals, technical, complex and simple in same time. This simplicity in appearance rather reflects a harmonic complexity that finds its influences everywhere. There are a few things of Pascal Barbot in his “cuisine”, just a feeling!

There is another school in Flanders equally talented and dedicated to the unique “terroir”! Try Vrijmoed and Ghent before this city became a must in June 2013!

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Q+A WITH MICHAËL VRIJMOED (www.vrijmoed.be):

1-(Scoffier) How do you explain the philosophy behind your cuisine and what is it main characteristics?

MVrijmoed– A pure “cuisine” where we follow the seasons. We start with the search of a good (honest) product and we create a dish without overloading it with to many ingredients.

2-(Scoffier) You worked almost 8 years as sous chef for one of the most important restaurants in Belgium, Hof van Cleve. What have you learned with the chef Peter Goossens?

MVrijmoed– That was as 8 years of exploring and learning about the products, techniques. I learned to know Peter Goossens himself and myself…

3-(Scoffier) Why did you decide to open your own restaurant now (2013)?

MVrijmoed– It was a dream for a long time to open one day my own restaurant and to do “my things” but I waited for the good moment, when I would be ready in all aspects.

4-(Scoffier) Do you have a flavour or taste from your childhood that is again memorable?

MVrijmoed– The smell or taste of a fresh baked bread is something that I adore, we make our own bread in the restaurant and will keep doing that for the future for that reason.

5-(Scoffier) Do you have a particular foods (or products) that you often use in your recipes?

MVrijmoed– I like acidity or the use of citrus in my dishes.

6-(Scoffier) Do you have a mentor (chefs or anybody else) that inspires in your career?

MVrijmoed– For sure Peter Goossens was one of these persons. But also Guy Van Cauteren who closed his restaurant this year (after almost 40 years) where I really learned “what’s cooking”.

There are other chefs that touched me with their “cuisine” including Michel Bras, Pascal Barbot and of course many others!

7-(Scoffier) How do you develop (process) your recipes? What are your source(s) of inspiration?

MVrijmoed– I start with the “main ingredient” of a dish and I think to how I would love to eat it. Next step is thinking what are the seasonal products who would improve the dish.

8-(Scoffier) I had the chance to interview some talented young Flemish chefs, the restaurant scene looks very original and singular in Flanders (I think at Bruges, Ghent…). How do you explain that?

MVrijmoed– I think it’s true that we have some really talented young chefs in Belgium, who (may be the most important) do their own “cuisine” and give a 100% in their work all the time.

9-(Scoffier) Can you give us a detailed recipe (Signature dish or one that you like now) that is characterized the cuisine of Michaël Vrijmoed?

MVrijmoedRecipe: Confits of pork cheeks, goose liver, roasted spring onions and “saltcrustbaked” cevenne onions.

10-(Scoffier) What are your goals (ambitions) as chef and for Restaurant Vrijmoed?

MVrijmoed– Keep on going as we do now, two (2) months after the opening: make the people happy with “la cuisine” we do!

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RECIPE: Confits of Pork Cheeks, Goose Liver, Roasted Spring Onions & “Saltcrustbaked” Cevenne Onions.

No Instruction. A little secret even as the restaurant has just opened!

FURTHER INFORMATION

RESTAURANT VRIJMOED/Chef Michaël Vrijmoed
Vlaanderenstraat 22
9000 Ghent
Belgium
info@vrijmoed.be
www.vrijmoed.be

PRESS

1. Alle Dagen Honger site (Review in Flemish), May 5, 2013

2. Le Figaro “Gand Gourmand”, March 16, 2013

3. Flanders Today (Review), March 20, 2013

© Credits for photos at Restaurant Vrijmoed.

Tous Droits Réservés. Copyright Scoffier © 2008-2013

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AndréChiang/©RestaurantAndre

ANOTHER GASTRONOMIC WORLD-ASIAN CHEFS: ANDRÉ CHIANG

The Électrons Libres, is a group of chefs that are as individual or a leaders of a group have taken a unique route that goes beyond the learning process. Their philosophy transforms the cuisine of the present time as well as the cuisine of the future in a specific area (place) or country. Sometimes they are the leaders of a culinary movement but often, they are alone in their search.

Barely passed his thirties, the Chef André Chiang in October 2010 opened his own restaurant in Singapore. And why is this restaurant so anticipated by fans and foodies? Just because this young Chef , with strong French roots, has already won several awards and has collected good papers in the media.

After several years doing an apprenticeship with the greatest French chefs of the moment; Gagnaire, Troisgros, Pascal Barbot, Robuchon (L’Atelier) and brothers Pourcel (Le Jardin des Sens), André Chiang decided to accept a new challenge and to lead the kitchen at Restaurant Jaan by André (Swissôtel-The Stamford) in Singapore. It was ranked # 39 on the prestigious list S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2010.

His cuisine is based on a strong French techniques and a great respect for the purity of the products. It is highly creative and these days inspired by the fresh ingredients from Singapore and Asia. Chiang has developed over the years a unique and original philosophy (Octaphilosophy) expressed in eight points: Unique, Texture, Memory, Pure, Terroir, Salt, South, Artisan.

Great expectations for a great chef in a city where gastronomy is changing rapidly and where they will be many discoveries in the coming years!

Q+A WITH ANDRÉ CHIANG (www.restaurantandre.com):

1-(Scoffier) How do you explain the philosophy (Octaphilosophy) behind your cuisine at Restaurant Andre and how do you construct your Menu Octa?

AChiang- Octaphilosophy is a hypothesis I have practiced for several years now, these eight elements are constantly repeated and have regularly resurface in my menus. It is a concept I have applied in many of my creations. The new restaurant has provided me with the avenue to consolidate and share my thoughts in a more succinct manner.

How does Octaphilosophy present for diners when they visit the restaurant? Based on eight primary characteristics: Unique, Texture, Memory, Pure, Terroir, Salt, South and Artisan; diners will be taken on a journey with a repertoire of eight dishes themed after the eight characteristics of Octaphilosophy.

Representative dishes in the menu change through the seasons or according to the inspirations from the fresh produce received each day, while the characteristics of the philosophy remain unchanged.

A Representation of Our Menu this Season:

· PURE

(A pure flavour without seasoning)

· SALT

(Salt from the sea)

· ARTISAN

(Heritage and limited produce from artisans around the globe)

TEXTURE

(A play with textures)

· SOUTH

(Celebrating the colours and generosity of the South of France)

· UNIQUE

(A combination of the best and most unique ingredients)

· MEMORY

(A fond memory of a timeless dish, in creation since 1998)

· TERROIR

(Celebrating the gifts from the land)

Interior/©RestaurantAndre

2-(Scoffier) Do you have a flavour or taste from your childhood that is again memorable?

AChiang– The dish I have featured as MEMORY (Foie Gras Jelly) is one of my favourite dishes. It is a dish that has evolved through the years with me, and brings back fond memories of my days training and working in France.

3-(Scoffier) Do you have a particular foods (or products) that you often use in your recipes?

AChiang- love the lemon for it’s acidity and it’s role as a flavour catalyst. The acidity in lemons enhances the flavour of a dish as the sensation intermingles with our taste buds allowing the flavours that precede to be more pronounced.

4-(Scoffier) Do you have a mentor (chefs or anybody else) that inspires you in your cuisine?

AChiang- I am eternally grateful for the opportunities that I have been given in my career and the influence from the 3 generations of Masters of “Nouvelle Cuisine”, not forgetting the myriad selection of products the restaurant receives everyday which are my essential daily dose of inspiration.

5-(Scoffier) Your influences are very French, is there a part of Asia in your cuisine?

AChiang- I arrived in Singapore 3 years ago and I am still exploring ingredients available here. When I create, I try as often as possible to incorporate the freshest produce we are able to procure locally or from the region, capitalising on seasonality, proximity and availability.

6-(Scoffier)- For about 3 years, Singapore is on the map of Gourmet, can you tell us the benefits of working there, and the ease of finding a high quality products? I know that a chef as Pascal Barbot (L’Astrance, Paris) take a lot of time choosing and picking his produces at the market. (Your relation with your suppliers…)

AChiang- The amalgamation of cultures and the vibrant mix of culinary styles does make Singapore’s gourmet scene very fascinating. I am impressed by the standard that this island nation presents and the support its government provides with their myriad programmes to elevate the standard of the culinary offerings here to drive growth in the industry.

With Singapore being a leading business hub, I have not encountered major problems sourcing for produce. We work with a brilliant group of suppliers and farmers in Singapore and globally who support us with very good produce. We also hope to continue introducing fine food purveyors who supply to top restaurants in Europe to Singapore.

7-(Scoffier) Do you use some elements from new technology (sous-vide etc.) in your cooking techniques? If yes, which?

AChiang- Charcoal grilling is my latest obsession. In my opinion, the intense unique smokey charcoal grilled flavour is a taste that we are so familiar with but yet forgotten.

It is such an exceptional cooking technique that cannot be replaced with any modern technology.

8-(Scoffier) Can you give us a detailed recipe (Signature dish or other) that is characterized the cuisine of Andre Chiang?

AChiang-The PURE dish in my Octaphilosophy menu which features all raw elements with no cooking and no seasoning.

Snacking/©RestaurantAndre

9-(Scoffier) What is your goal (ambitions) as chef or for your restaurant? Do you think about write a book, a television show, others?

AChiang- With this restaurant, I hope to be able to establish new frontiers in fine-dining with an enhancement of my revolving repertoire of dishes. It is important to realise that dining is more than just exceptional cuisine and service standards. What is more important than to stir emotion in the hearts of the guest and to reveal stories that have never been told before?

Apart from cuisine, the restaurant also reveals the non-culinary side of my art, it showcases my penchant for design and the arts with delicately-crafted artwork in various mediums which are showcased throughout the three-storey space.

My immediate task is to have the restaurant up and running well. I also hope to be able to continue to do what I like, bringing more to the people who have been supporting me.

We are ready to write a cookbook and look forward to continue collaborating with other chefs to pass on the new bio movement and my philosophy.

FURTHER INFORMATION:

-Restaurant Andre/Chef André Chiang

41 Bukit Pasoh Road

Singapore 089855

www.restaurantandre.com

PRESS/REVIEW:

1. Singapore’s Best New Restaurant, CNNgo, December 2010, http://www.cnngo.com/singapore/eat/cnngos-best-eats-awards-2010/singapores-best-new-restaurant-904394

2. Wall Paper Magazine, Graduate Directory 2011, http://www.wallpaper.com/gallery/art/graduate-directory-2011/17052208/38585

3. 10 Restaurants worth a plane ride, NY Times, January 2011, http://travel.nytimes.com/2011/01/09/travel/09restaurants.html

4. Chef André’s Interview (video), YourSingapore.com, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUdY9fEwCLg&feature=related

Tous droits réservés. Copyright Scoffier © 2008-2011

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