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Le Jardin des Sens.

Restaurant of a Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux and hotel in town. France,Montpellier

Jacques et Laurent Pourcel

Chef
Le Jardin des Sens Montpellier 34000

We were born on 13 September 1964 at Agde, in the Hérault region of France. Our father and grandfather were both wine growers, and we grew up on the shores of the Mediterranean. Our mother taught us all about regional cooking: fish soup, stuffed squid, cuttlefish with red pepper and garlic sauce, salt cod and garlic cooked in milk, and another fish soup, bourride, made with tomatoes, garlic, onions and monkfish.

Bras, Meneau, Gagnaire, Chapel and Trama were our masters and they started us on a journey that opened the doors of creative cuisine to us. We are passionate about what we do.
In 1988, we opened Le Jardin des Sens in Montpellier with our friend Olivier Château and in 1998 it was awarded its third Michelin star in recognition of its elegant, creative Mediterranean cooking.

We are inspired by the south of France, and our cuisine draws on both the land and the sea, playing with contrasts: hot and cold, smooth and crunchy, sweet and savoury, sweet and sour.

In 2000 we branched out onto the international stage. We now have restaurants in Bangkok, Tokyo, Geneva, Marrakech, Casablanca and Paris, but we are also making our mark in Singapore (at Raffle’s) and in Shanghai, with the first Relais Gourmand in China (Sens & Bund). We have also been developing ethnic cooking with the brasserie concept of “La Compagnie des Comptoirs” in Montpellier, Béziers and Paris. We still have our bistro-style fish restaurants in Sète and Marseillan, as well as a restaurant on the beach in Villeneuve-les-Maguelone.

Our desire for entrepreneurship and innovation extends far beyond the restaurants themselves. Cookbooks, “fast food” based on the idea of chic snacks, a cookery school, lounge bars and so much more: that’s our world now.

We don’t claim to be part of a particular school: we simply like to explore new things and share our passion. We are actively involved in a large number of charitable causes, which we support throughout the year. Protecting the environment is something we take extremely seriously, above all the importance of looking after the planet so that we hand it down to future generations clean and with a calmer future.

What’s our cooking about? Celebrating the flavours of the Mediterranean in its broadest sense with passion and enthusiasm. We are excited by all the countries around the Mediterranean coast – Spain, Italy, Greece, Lebanon, Morocco – and all our cooking is based on one guiding principle: olive oil, tomatoes and spices. “Simplicity” and “product quality” are at the very heart of what we look for, and we rely on good producers, small farmers and exceptional fishermen and livestock farmers who offer us truly excellent ingredients.


What was your most moving culinary experience?
Meeting Michel Bras, initially through his mother: he had the intelligence to combine creativity and local produce and to keep in touch with good family cooking, especially local specialities such as aligot – potatoes mashed with tomme cheese and garlic.
The other was discovering the cooking of Pierre Gagnaire, who brought ideas about design and modernity to food. His approach helped us to discover a style of cooking that pushed back the boundaries and redefined what was taboo.

The most amusing kitchen incident you ever witnessed?
We were doing a cooking demonstration for some very formal ladies who were keen amateur cooks at the Raffles hotel in Singapore and had prepared a roast pigeon with a cocoa sauce. We were both working on the recipe together: Laurent was cooking the pigeon whilst Jacques was preparing the vegetable garnish. We asked the young kitchen hand to go to the back kitchen to get the cocoa sauce we had already made. As he approached us with the saucepan full of sauce in his hand he slipped and drenched us in one broad sweep: we were covered in cocoa from head to foot! Not to mention the ladies’ suits... We fell about laughing, so that was the end of that day’s cookery lesson.

Your best piece of advice for amateur chefs?
Use the market as a source of inspiration and creativity for what you cook. Use local producers whenever you can. Retain flavour by cooking food that’s easy to understand and keeping cooking times reasonable.


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