Chennai takes part in a global celebration of French cuisine, with five exclusive menus, available for one night only
t’s not every day that the world (at least most of it) unites to participate in something. And even more so when said something is neither social cause, nor international sport or global outrage. On March 19, over 1,000 restaurants in five continents will celebrate French cuisine. Yes, you read right. Inspired by the epicurean dinners (or should we say, Les Dîners d’Épicure) started by French chef Auguste Escoffier in 1912, masterchef Alain Ducasse and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, have created Goût de France (Good France) to showcase French culinary heritage and produce, among other things. And while Escoffier, who was an advocate of seasonal produce, served one menu at several cities around the world on the same day, Goût de France has allowed its 1,000 plus participating chefs to come up with menus of their own.
In answer to this French call, chefs from five top hotels in the city (The Park, The Leela Palace, Park Hyatt, ITC Grand Chola and Vivanta by Taj-Connemara) submitted special menus based on the guidelines of the organisers. “The general structure provided was to have a cold starter, hot starter, fish course, sorbet, main course, cheese course, dessert and coffee,” shares Dharmen Makwana, executive chef of The Leela Palace, who has written his menu in both English and French. His “modern take on French cuisine” at Spectra will feature dishes like Navarin (the French ragoût), besides truffles, brie, espresso and chocolate meringues. Meanwhile, at The Verandah (Taj Connemara), chef VK Chandrassekaran says that his French dinner “will highlight specials from the region of Auvergne.” And like the other chefs, he too will be pairing the meal with imported French wines.
Classic vs contemporary
Chef Rajesh Radhakrishnan and his team at The Park (the group’s hotels in Chennai and Kolkata are participating) are cooking up a meal that is “sustainable, low fat, low sugar and salt.” From their roast foie gras to the pan seared duck breast and gratinated rock lobster thermidor — it’s going to be only traditional French recipes at 601. “There’s not much French cuisine happening in the city, so we’ve stuck to classics,” says the chef, who has imported roquefort and camembert for his cheese course.
Park Hyatt on the other hand, “will be giving classic French dishes a Flying Elephant twist,” according to the enthusiastic chef Grzegorz Odolak. With salmon rillette and beef bourguignon on the five-course menu for non vegetarians, The Flying Elephant is the only restaurant in the city that’s also doing a vegetarian menu. “Alain Ducasse is as popular as the president in France and our French customers at the hotel are very excited,” he exclaims.
Rs 3,000 plus tax at The Flying Elephant-71771234; Rs 4,500 at 601-42676000; Rs 4,950 plus tax at Spectra-33661234; Rs 3,500 at The Verandah-66000000