New York: Three-star Michelin chef Pierre Gagnaire, who has restaurants dotted around the globe, is about to make his first foray in the United States with a new one in Las Vegas.
The 59-year-old Frenchman, who has been described as France's most innovative chef, is renowned for his structured dishes, which combine classic techniques with modern flair.
In collaboration with French chemist Herve This, who is recognized as the father of molecular gastronomy, he also created what is claimed to be the world's first dish made entirely of pure compounds.
Gagnaire spoke to Reuters about his cooking style, growing up in France and his latest venture, Twist by Pierre Gagnaire, which opens in December at the Mandarin Oriental in Las Vegas.
Q: You come from a family of restaurant owners. Is that where your initial inspiration to become a chef came from?
A: "Yes and no. Yes, because I was under pressure to be a chef, although I didn't like it at the beginning. I grew to like it. When I grew to like it I said if I am going to be a chef I am going to enjoy myself.
"And no, because as a child I saw that it involved long hours and stress which didn't inspire me."
Q: So where did the inspiration come from?
A: "One day I just realized I had a little bit of talent. It is like a string you pull and suddenly you realize you have more talent coming."
Q: Early in your career you worked with French chef Paul Bocuse. How much of an influence was he?
A; "It was during the summer. I was there for a short time but I was inspired by his attitude. He was like a knight, a prince. He was very wise. It was not the cuisine that inspired me but more the way he acted and the way he is."
Q: How would you describe your cooking style?
A: "It has its roots in very traditional techniques. In the beginning I realized that in restaurants people were not being given everything. I started to wonder when clients sit down in a restaurant what do they actually expect. Before I start working on the taste and the cuisine I work on the presentation -- what is on the plate, what is on the table, the lighting. A meal is like a show."
Q: You are also known for your architectural dishes.
A: "Yes. My first aim is to build the dish that will give you pleasure."
First Published: Tuesday, October 20, 2009, 18:45