EXCLUSIVE: Chef of the century, cookbook author, and restauranteur with celebrity restaurants and outlets all across the globe – Hong Kong, Las Vegas, London, Macau, Monaco, Paris, Bordeaux, Taipei, Tokyo and Singapore… With a total of 28 Michelin Stars, Joël Robuchon is one of the most famous chefs in the world. And one of our favourites too, of course.
We met up with Joël Robuchon when he was in town to visit Joël Robuchon Restaurant and L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon at Resorts World Sentosa. It was an exclusive session, and we spent a morning chatting with him to find out about his thoughts about the world’s food scene, as well as catching up on the latest updates about his business. We also had the chance to experience the magic in Joël Robuchon Restaurant’s kitchen - the sacred ground of haute cuisine – to catch glimpses of the talented team at work, and to learn from executive chef Michael Michaelidis on how to prepare a Salmon Tartare.
Here are the things that you never knew about Joël Robuchon, as well as a recipe of a Salmon Tartare by Joël Robuchon Restaurant’s executive chef Michael Michaelidis.
#1 WHAT IS YOUR KIND OF COMFORT FOOD?
Joël Robuchon: No matter which part of the world I am at, I’m always working in my restaurants, trying out new dishes and recipes. Unlike most people, I do not have the luxury of sitting down for a full meal. I do not have any favourite food. It always depends on the occasion, the season, as well as the mood at that point in time.
The thing that excites me the most is the ever-changing seasonal ingredient and getting my hands on the highest quality. It is currently the white truffle season, so naturally the dish that I’d like to eat the most now is a plate of spaghetti with a perfectly boiled egg topped with lots of white truffle.
#2 WHAT IS THE TOUGHEST DISH/INGREDIENT TO PREPARE?
Joël Robuchon: One of the most difficult ingredients to prepare is black truffle. In order to cook black truffle well, the chef would need to have a lot of knowledge and technique so as to treat it properly in order to preserve and maximise the flavours.
While truffle is now aplenty and the audience might be confused about the grades, a real chef who uses only the premium grade is not one who sweeps you off your feet the moment he dishes out his creation. Quality truffle has to be handled meticulously, and it should perfume the food in such a way that only upon mixing or cutting up your food, and putting it in your mouth, then would the flavours be released in full force. That is the test for every chef.
#3 IS THERE SOMETHING THAT A NORMAL DINER WOULD NOT KNOW ABOUT L’ATELIER DE JOËL ROBUCHON AND JOËL ROBUCHON RESTAURANT?
Joël Robuchon: At every Joël Robuchon restaurant, there is a huge amount of preparation work done behind the scenes that customers do not see; we call that the mise en place. From picking the best and freshest ingredients; to scaling, deboning and cleaning the fish; cutting the various vegetables; and preparing the stocks, our chefs spend a lot of time on the preparation, because we take pride in every ingredient that goes in to your dish, and we only want you to have the finest of our touches.
#4 WHICH IS YOUR FAVOURITE JOËL ROBUCHON RESTAURANT IN THE WORLD?
Joël Robuchon: Always the one that I am at now. So, it would be Joël Robuchon Restaurant and L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon. (laughs)
#5 WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT SINGAPORE’S DINING SCENE?
Joël Robuchon: Honestly, this is not an easy question for me because I do not have much knowledge of the restaurants in Singapore. I’ve been to a few restaurants so far but I am not the most qualified person to discuss this. But I do love all the local food that I have tried so far.
#6 WHICH IS YOUR FAVOURITE LOCAL FOOD IN SINGAPORE?
Joël Robuchon: I appreciate local food like chilli crab, black pepper crab and chicken rice because they are flavourful and have a lot of characters.
#7 ANY PLANS TO OPEN MORE RESTAURANTS IN 2015?
Joël Robuchon: Yes, I do have some new openings coming next year. In December, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon will be starting its operations in the centre of Bangkok. And before the end of the year, we are opening another restaurant, La Grande Maison that will be housed in a 19th-century mansion in the Bordeaux region. Also, we are looking to open our first L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Shanghai next year. It will be located along The Bund, and it is a beautiful spot to dine while enjoying the true Shanghai beauty.
#8 WHICH IS YOUR FAVOURITE CITY, AND WHY?
Joël Robuchon: I have too many favourite cities in the world, but one of the cities that holds a special place in my heart is New York City because it is a place with so much energy. There are always new things happening in the city, with new trends to explore. I find myself very comfortable and inspired whenever I am in the city.
Tokyo, another place that I love, is the same as New York City but with a certain refinement. I’ve been travelling to Tokyo for the past 40 years and it never ceases to impress me.
London is also an exciting city with lots of activities and exciting restaurant concepts that are truly special and characteristic. I get inspirations there too.
RECIPE OF LE SAUMON – AS A TARTARE WITH YOUNG SHISO SPROUTS
Receipe serves 4
- 120g of Salmon (finely chopped)
- 10g small white onion (finely chopped)
- 5g of Capers (finely chopped)
- 2 leafs of Young Shiso Sprouts (finely chopped)
- 10g of Tobiko Eggs
- Salt and Pepper to taste (milled)
- 1 egg yolk
- 20g of Dijon Mustard
- 20g of Ketchup
- 35g of Grape-Seed Oil
- A few drops of Worcester sauce (Lea & Perrins brand)
- Salt and Pepper to taste (milled)
- 40g of Caviar
- 8 slices of Bread (toasted)
- 4 Gold Leaves
1. In a bowl, add 1 egg yolk, 20g of Dijon Mustard and 20g of Ketchup. Add Salt and Pepper from the mill to taste. Whisk the mixture consistently while adding 35g of Grape-Seed Oil into the bowl slowly. Add a few drops of Worcester sauce and continue to whisk with a consistent speed.
2. Measure and put aside 40g of the mixture obtained in Step 1 for the next step.
3. In another bowl that sits in another bowl filled with ice, add 120g of finely chopped Salmon bits, 10g finely chopped small white Onions, 5g of finely chopped Capers, 2 pinches of finely chopped Shiso sprouts, 10g of Tobiko eggs, and 40g of the sauce prepared in Step 2. Mix everything together gently with a fork and add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Fill a circular mould of diameter 5cm with a spoonful (approximately 35g) of the Salmon Tartare mixture in Step 3 and top it with a teaspoon (approximately 10g) of caviar right in the middle.
5. Remove the circular mould gently and place it on a plate and place 1 piece of Gold Leaf in the middle of the caviar. Serve with 2 bread toasts.
6. Repeat Step 4-5 for the remaining 3 servings.