As 12 restaurants from the UAE are preparing to take part in a worldwide food festival, Good France, celebrating French cuisine tomorrow, tabloid! decided to get a sneak preview of what we can expect at one of the participating venues and understand a bit more about French gastronomy.
We are greeted by a smiling and welcoming restaurant manager Pierre Gauthier, who shows us around the chic and very stylish Stay by Yannick Alleno at One & Only, The Palm, Dubai, before introducing us to chef Gautier Gaschi. We hear those famous French words, “Enchante,” and with it, the French experience begins.
Although it is Friday night and the restaurant is fully booked, Gaschi is relaxed and makes time to show us the ins and outs of the kitchen, explains the essence of French cuisine while cracking jokes and still keeping an eye on the service and plates that are leaving the kitchen.
He shows us one of the dishes he has come up with for the Good France menu: Duck foie gras terrine with green apple jelly. He puts the final touch on the dish by grating lemon zest on top and explains that the dish is very technical as he said are most dishes in French cuisine.
“Foie gras is fatty so I added the apple jelly because it is acidic so you break-up the fat with the acidity and give it a good balance. Everything is very square. It is a lot of experience and you have to understand your products.
“What is French food? It is the spirit. I think first the quality of the product, then the technique of the cooking, and of course the service,” he emphasises and elaborates on the importance of service. “You need to have a team that works together for the same goals, [which is] the happiness of the customer.”
Gaschi and his team take the happiness of customers very seriously and this attitude is apparent throughout the evening. While an army of chefs work hard and fast in the kitchen to deliver every plate, Gaschi works patiently and calmly and even shows guests how it all happens. Gordon Ramsey’s profanities and stressful kitchen settings have no place in this kitchen.
Tonight’s specials were Croque-monsieur, a crunchy bread with cream and truffle; a Hamachi cracker, a Japanese fish on a rice cracker with a hint of lemon; and Gougeres, a cheese dish.
Gaschi explains the complexity of the dishes in their simplicity. “It is all about the technique. These look simple but are very unique very technical dishes,” he said. “For me that is a French restaurant. A lot of small details make a big difference.
“French fine dining is warmth, elegance and the wow [of the dish],” he said.
“Everywhere you go in the world you can eat French food and it is always the reference [for chefs],” he said before adding, “So if you are number one or two [restaurant or chef] that is not important, you have to cook with passion.”
Gaschi said he is very excited about the Good France event and is counting down the days, “I am very excited that across the UAE people will have the opportunity to try French cuisine in different restaurants, perhaps an opportunity they would not normally have.”
For his part, he said he has prepared a menu for the festival that can capture the basis of French gastronomy that includes snails, the foie gras and chicken.
“I will be cooking snails, very simple with garlic and butter and voila. The main course is chicken, because in France every Sunday my mother cooked roast chicken with French fries and salad. That is my upbringing and the chicken is very popular in France.”
Don’t miss it
Good France, organised by the French ministry of foreign affairs and international development, will see over 1,500 chefs in five continents celebrate French gastronomy by preparing a special menu to be served around the world on the same day, tomorrow. Participating venues have also agreed to donate 5 per cent of the earnings to a local nongovernment organisation, and the price of the menus are at their own discretion. Money from the UAE participants will be donated to an Emirati foundation that supports mothers.
All participating chefs have to follow one meal sequence and design recipes that use less fat, sugar and salt. The order of the dishes is what you’d experience at any classic French restaurant or dinner party: Aperitif and canapés, starters, main courses, cheese and desserts, along with French drinks.
The participating restaurants include:
Brasserie Flo, Venetian Village, menu price: Dh285++, call 02-4041931
La Piscine, Al Raha Beach Hotel, menu price: Dh320++, call 02-5080555
The Forge, Ritz Carlton Hotel, menu price: Dh450++ food only, AED700++with refreshments, call 02-818 8282
Finz, Beach Rotana, menu price: Dh420++, call 02-6979011
Still’s, Crowne Plaza Yas Island, menu price: Dh199 net, call 02-6563066
Le Beaujolais, Mercure Center hotel, menu price: Dh280 net, call 02-6333555
Original Fusion, The Mall, World Trade Center, menu price: Dh195++, call 02-4440467
Le Frioul, Madinat Jumeirah, menu price: Dh250, call 04-5670011
Le Classique, Dubai Golf, menu price: Dh550 (drinks not included), call 04-4179999
Pure Sky Lounge & Dining, Hilton Dubai The Walk, menu price: Dh180, call 04-3991111
STAY by Yannick Alléno, One & Only The Palm, menu price: Dh650, call 04-4401030
Vogue Café, Dubai Mall, menu price: Dh180, call 04-5016810