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A kitchen needs a network of suppliers. What would chefs do without the tireless farmers and gardeners, mushroom gatherers, and fishermen returning with the daily catch? The supplier and the chef must have a perfectly interdependent and mutually beneficial relationship. I still remember the wild strawberries waiting for me in the morning when I arrived at the Louis XV. There they were, these tiny fruits from the woods, carefully placed on the table… precious gems nestled protectively in soil and leaves.

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Here we are with the warm flavors of the Middle East and eastern Mediterranean in a dish that takes you to the kebab shops in the souks of Istanbul, where wonderful aromas of grilled, spiced meat greet you.

The contrast in the recipe is in the double textures of eggplant—one that is roasted in the oven and blended with spice, olive oil, and lemon; and the other, which gets caramelized with honey and sherry vinegar for a bright, powerful aigre doux glaze. The large pearl couscous is the perfect bed to set the lamb, and absorb its juices.

There are sweet, tangy, and roasted notes here, perfectly complemented with a refreshing dressing of yogurt, cucumber, and mint.

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Cooking is generosity. Food has much more flavor when it is shared happily with others. The keys to really enjoying food are a beautiful, set table with friends around it and lively conversation. Here is a hearty but regal dish that one would be proud to serve to guests. I love these kinds of dishes because they embody the real reasons for a meal: friendship and conviviality.

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