“Creativity is born from authenticity, but it is supported by tradition. An artist does not reinvent the rainbow; he uses the colors in a different way.”
Pierre Gagnaire’s food conceals my peculiarity.
So he’s a 3 michelin star, world renown French chef. Yes. Most of us may know that...
In truth, I was a bit too nervous the first time I met him because I wanted to be ‘as professional’ as possible (so this is the
before meeting him planning in my head
thoughts). Then in actuality, as soon as I saw his smile, I melted. Hahaha. Ok. Not so much in the romantic sense. Chef Gagnaire has a tender soul and a genuine spirit about him. I could see why he’s a natural leader in the kitchen, and why his staff waits for the beat of his drum.
I stole a few peeks of him working with other staff members in the kitchen during a busy lunch hour...impressive. His staff was all open ears with every word he uttered...and they listened with eagerness and a thirst to learn. He visits the Seoul restaurant twice a year, and with each visit, you can feel the excitement.
“One last thing: we are not talking about a cuisine of enlightenment. Rather it is a cuisine of passion. Such is my work. Such is my lifestyle. Such is my life.”
My first visit to this restaurant was to meet the chef while he was here in Seoul for a short one week visit. Restaurant was completely booked. Staff running around. Phones off the hook. Perfection is the norm but nothing less than godliness on his watch. In the heat of this moment, I arrived with my Canon S95, and one of his books to get signed. Yup, a true food nerd.
It was an honor to witness the kitchen operations. Its always been the things that happen behind the scenes that I really love most about restaurants. It reminds me of when I was managing restaurants and how much I missed the energy.
The chef showed me around, we had a quick chat about what he thinks of Seoul, and even had the audacity to squeeze in a shy request under my breath ”hey can I rsvp at your restaurant in Paris?" hahaha. I don’t think he quite caught that one. All in all, I enjoyed being in his presence, and do hope to see him soon...perhaps to dine with him? Wishful thinking doesn’t cost a cent...
Feuilites to the left...Grilled scallops coated with LEONARDI 10 years one: pear & turnip dices to the right...
The second visit was the fabulous dining experience. Ok, must I go in further details about the food? I’ve done some fine dining in my time. But this...this experience was almost like a motionless dance. I was moved by the passion of Chef Gagnaire’s food. Wow.
This time around, I had the honor to spend a moment with Executive Chef Julien Boscus. Originally from France, he’s been with Pierre Gagnaire since 2008. He started in Paris, then moved on to Hong Kong.
He’s been transplanted to Seoul for a few years now, and was part of the opening team of Pierre Gagnaire à Séoul. During dinner, he came out to the dining hall to check up on us, and to make sure we were having the time of our lives. Uh, just kidding. Ever so sweet, he was open to discussing any random questions we had about the food. However, the real conversation began when we were led to the kitchen, and asked him questions like what his favorite eateries were in Seoul. We concluded that he’s like one of us. He loves hole-in-the-wall dives with food that simply taste good for a great value. I always find it interesting in what the Frenchies really think about Korean food, haha. When he mentioned that he wasn’t a huge fan of Makgeolli (the unfiltered Korean rice wine) my heart did ache a little. Well, I’ll have to work on this one.
Albert Camus dining hall
Lettuce braised with bordeaux sauce (bone marrow inside), pomme maxime,
shiitake mushrooms & green beans
The handsome in white...
From the amazing service which was a nice prelude to a meal, with flavors that both diverged and wove together so well, to the real life personal stories of the chefs-was like the perfect after dinner digestif.
Bon appetit indeed.
All bubbly inside...
The man himself...
1, Jung-gu, Sogong-dong 100-070, Seoul, Korea 서울특별시 중구 을지로 100-070
Inside Lotte Hotel-Myungdong, 35th floor
Euljiro 1-ga station, (line #2)
Exit 7 or 8, you will see Lotte hotel to your left