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15 new Grands Chefs Relais & Châteaux A world leader in culinary arts

As Patrick Henriroux, vice-president and Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux at the Pyramide in Vienne (France), says “the culinary arts are an intrinsic part of the soul and spirit of Relais & Châteaux”. The quest for flavour and precisely the right taste in true harmony with the sense of place and local ingredients, with a dose of generosity makes a Relais & Châteaux dining experience truly unique.

This year, eight new Grands Chefs, 5 in France, 1 in Germany, 1 in England and 1 in the United States have been awarded a Trophy for being elected to this status: Philippe Mille (Les Crayères), Jean-Luc Rocha (Château Cordeillan-Bages), Cyril Leclerc (Château d‟Adoménil), Pierre Basso-Moro (Château de Germigney), Yannick Franques (Château Saint-Martin & Spa), Martin Herrmann (Hotel Dollenberg), Martin Burge (Whatley Manor) and Christopher Kostow (Meadowood Napa Valley). This prestigious award underlines their recognition as major players in the world of culinary arts.

And among our new members, there are seven culinary superstars from the world of international gastronomy who are joining the Grands Chefs family for 2011: from France, Philippe Gauvreau (Le Pavillon de la Rotonde & Spa) and Edouard Loubet (Bastide de Capelongue); from Italy, Nino Di Costanzo (Terme Manzi Hotel); from China Ivan Li (Family Li Imperial Cuisine); from Japan Hiroshi Yamaguchi (Kobe Kitano Hotel) and Hirohisa Koyama (Kokin Aoyagi); from the United States, William Bradley (Addison). These fifteen remarkable artisans of taste come to join the ranks of the 147 Grand Chefs Relais & Châteaux (63 of whom are propritors of stand-alone restaurants) which makes our association a world leader in culinary arts. These chefs, who hail from throughout the world, place their savoir-faire and creativity at the service of reinventing, each in their own particular way, this art of the ephemeral. They all share the same ambition, to create memorable experiences, sublime moments of sheer pleasure.

The 8 Grands Chefs Relais & Châteaux “TROPHY”-winners

Philippe Mille – Les Crayères (France)

It has taken but a few months for the former assistant to Yannick Alleno at Le Meurice, at the age of 35, to establish a cuisine based on a mastery of ingredients and cooking times. His self-imposed role of providing a “chef’s cuisine” is a passion inherited from his grandmother and aided by the reading of vintage cook books.

At Les Crayères, this magnificent property in the Champagne region, Philippe Mille has two restaurants, the gourmet “Le Parc”, and his modern brasserie “Le Jardin”. In these he works to two different culinary scores each sharing the same inspiration “classic cuisine adapted to modern tastes and to a place”. His sole is “cooked simply à la meunière” with pasta “prepared like a risotto with chorizo, tomato and shellfish”; his “poached chicken oysters in a Poule au Pot chicken stock” is served with chanterelles simmered in Vin Jaune, caramelised onions and grated roast hazelnuts.

An “aspiration to simplicity and clarity” is the theme behind the creation of this “cuisine of pleasure, generosity, love for fine food, childhood memories, respect for the ingredients, a pared-down cuisine which is based on core values”.

Jean-Luc Rocha – Château Cordeillan Bages (France)

Not an easy task to take over the reins from Thierry Marx, an unusual chef with a tremendous media presence, the star at the extremely prestigious Château Cordeillan Bages! However, for Jean-Luc Rocha, his second in command since 2002, and promoted to executive chef in 2005, it was not a difficult move to make. In the heart of the Pauillac vineyards, on land belonging to Château Lynch-Bages, he has established a style that combines traditional style savoir-faire with technical expertise, classicism and modernity. It is his ambition to help his guests re-discover the local ingredients (baby eels, European shad...), which are part of the local Bordeaux and Médoc identity (“Aldudes pork and Gillardeau oysters crépinette style”). Self-portrait of the artist: “I am the archetypal product of the modern school of cuisine, I love dabbling in everything, adore discovering new things but am also extremely demanding”.

Cyril Leclerc – Château d’Adoménil (France)

Cyril Leclerc has been in charge of the kitchens at Château d‟Adoménil since 2003, and has made his restaurant a festive affair reputed the length and breadth of Lorraine, and beyond. In a magnificent 17th century property near Lunéville, he has established a style based on classic French cuisine, and given it a modern twist through his constant quest for new pairings of ingredients and new flavours. His menus based on seasonal ingredients are not lacking in bold touches. Just reading his menu is a foretaste of amazing discoveries to come, such as his “raw scallops, cristalline of demi-sel butter, mascarpone and wasabi, green aniseed”. And his “electric impact from Mara wild strawberries, acid drop” is something to dream of…

Pierre Basso Moro, Château de Germigney (France)

Pierre Basso Moro is a very discreet and reserved man and only feels at home when he is in his kitchen. For the last 10 years, at the Château de Germigney, he has followed an exacting approach and exploits his technical virtuosity through reinterpreting the classics as can be seen in his renowned chicken baked in a sealed terrine. He draws his inspiration from the spirit of place and the terroir, and constantly seeks to harmonise his dishes with the finest wines from the Jura region. However, he does not shy away from Asian or exotic influences as can be seen from his “Veal medallions, gyoza with cabbage cooked in butter, pan-fried Jerusalem artichoke”, and his “chaud-froid of venison with quince, marrow purée, mango and pomegranate, white coffee milk”.

Yannick Franques – Château St Martin (France)

Yannick Franques, who trained with Ducasse and Eric Fréchon, arrived at Château Saint-Martin in 2008 and has turned this property, perched on the hill slopes above Vence, into one of the best-known gourmet high spots on the Côte d‟Azur. The secret of his success? First, his ingredients: “a story of a true romance with the terroir”, and then, what he calls “his desire to delight” not to mention a love of sharing, which all combine to create “the excitement of a fine meal”. In his dining room at the Saint Martin, he serves “warm langoustine carpaccio, carrot foam with caraway, winkles and rocket in Sarawak pepper”, “lobster poached in a saffron-infused fish soup, bread-crumbed black olives, with a hint of aniseed”, “pigeon à la royale, spaghetti of truffled celeriac, sauce thickened with spiced dark chocolate” and other star dishes from a memorable signature menu.

Martin Herrmann – Hotel Dollenberg (Germany)

Martin Herrmann‟s career is crowned by the award of the title of Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux. A discrete man, first a commis chef, then an executive chef, he has been working since 1985 in this fine property in the heart of the romantic Black Forest countryside. Over the years, he has won the reputation of being a prestigious and acclaimed chef, very much in demand by the media. He enjoyed the opportunity to cook for a cosmopolitan clientele and indeed for an elite, namely heads of state, from Berlusconi to Barack Obama, during the NATO summit in Baden-Baden. He reinterprets regional traditions and favours elegant classical cuisine, with a French influence (a very simple “fillet of turbot in coriander and fennel sauce”), and maybe a hint of Asian cuisine inspired by his travels to Hong Kong and Japan.

Martin Burge – Watley Manor (United Kingdom)

In the Cotswolds, in the heart of England, Martin Burge has been in command of the kitchens since Whatley Manor opened, in 2003. This chef, aged 37, who learnt the ropes in the finest of restaurants, notably Raymond Blanc‟s Le Manoir aux Quat‟ Saisons, favours classical French cuisine with contemporary touches. In his gourmet restaurant, The Dining Room, he showcases locally-sourced ingredients: Cotswold fresh water Crayfish, poached in a court bouillon and served with “lobster mousse and shellfish cappuccino” and “Squab pigeon with foie gras and wrapped in spring cabbage”. The second restaurant at Whatley Manor, Le Mazot, serves sophisticated mountain cuisine in a Swiss chalet setting and has proved a great success amongst a wide local clientele.

Christopher Kostow – Meadowood (United States)

Christopher Kostow, a philosophy graduate, preferred the option of giving free rein to his passion for fine food to a brilliant university career. Since 2008, he has established, in the heart of the Napa Valley, the Californian Mecca for the art de vivre, a style that is “elegant, dynamic and pure”. His creative cuisine is based on locally-sourced ingredients: olives and garden-fresh tomatoes, honey from the property, wine from the next-door vineyard… While he favours avant-garde cooking techniques and believes that “you must constantly keep moving forward”, he is careful to point out: “My aim is to be evocative, not provocative… It is not our intention to shock!” At the restaurant at Meadowood, simplicity is the result of extensive savoir-faire: take, for example, this amuse-bouche which doesn‟t look much and which conceals, under a topping of foam and caviar, six different layers of potato!

The seven new 7 Grands Chefs members of Relais & Châteaux

Philippe Gauvreau – Pavillon de la Rotonde & Spa (France)

The cuisine of Philippe Gauvreau, enjoyed in the delightful setting of a lush green estate, plays its part in the creation of an authentic contemporary art de vivre. He arrived at this prestigious property in Charbonnières-les-Bains in 1993, after having learnt his art in some of the greatest restaurants (Le Grand Véfour, with Jacques Maximin at Le Negresco, Ledoyen), and created what is a leading gourmet restaurant in the region around Lyon. In his superb 260m2 kitchens, he creates seasonal dishes with influences from both sides of the Mediterranean – such as “Tagine of whole lobster with Provençal stuffed vegetables, cassolette of couscous with aubergine confit, crustacean jus with Oriental spices”. A Master of taste, he offers cookery courses for adults and for “gastrogones” (“gones” = “kids” in the local Lyon dialect), with children‟s classes from 7 to 14 years old.

So that his guests can have a wonderful time and enjoy the finest vintages free of cares, he provides a free taxi so that they can return home without mishap.

Edouard Loubet - Bastide de Capelongue (France)

Edouard Loubet has been established in Provence for some twenty years now, and serves, in a delightful bastide in Bonnieux (Luberon) an exceptional cuisine that keeps pace with the seasons, with 6 different menus offered over 8 months of the year. He is both a gardener and a poet and loves to use aromatic plants from the garrigues and herbs picked fresh from his own garden: savory, slovenwood, hyssop, lavender… to create colourful and aromatic dishes: “sea bass rolled in sage”, “monk fish and poppy”, “elderflower beignets”, “crème brûlée with truffles and jasmine”. His cuisine, based on pure farm-fresh produce, and benefitting from his proximity to some of the best producers and artisans in the Vaucluse, is proud to be 100% organic. Now at the top of his game and armed with rich years of experience which he is happy to share through offering cookery courses, this Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux has found, at the age of forty, a well-deserved recognition of his talents.

Nino Di Costanzo - Terme Manzi Hotel (Italy)

Nino Di Costanzo has returned to his native region, setting up in a former spa town on the island of Ischia, after having worked in the best restaurants in Europe. He offers an original, highly creative cuisine in intimate, luxurious surroundings. He draws on all the resources of the area, fish and sea food, cheeses and sun-ripened vegetables from the Amalfi coast and reinterprets local tradition letting his imagination run riot. Lobster with ricotta, red prawns with passion fruit and orange with vanilla and lime rice, appeal both to the eye and the taste buds. Line-caught sea bass is steamed in hay, following an old peasant tradition which the chef has reinterpreted. And who other than Nino Costanzo could possibly have dared to offer a crème glacée of pasta as a dessert?

Ivan Li – Family Li Cuisine (China)

This fine property in Shanghai allows you to step back in time to the Middle Kingdom. Here, Chef Ivan Li recreates the culinary splendours set before the Qing emperors at the time of Empress CiXi, in the 19th century. His restaurant, Family Li Cuisine, has preserved intact this heritage, not only in terms of the recipes and traditional cooking methods, but also the ancient cooking implements and utensils. Microwave ovens and pressure cookers have no place in his kitchen, and indeed nor have any additive or artificial flavouring, such as are often used in Chinese cooking. Mr. Li only uses natural ingredients in his cooking. The preparation of these dishes often involves a long and painstaking ritual, and some dishes may take up to 24 hours. Nine elegantly-decorated private dining rooms add the finishing touch to a unique experience.

Hiroshi Yamaguchi – Kobe Kitano Hotel (Japan)

Executive Chef Hiroshi Yamaguchi, from this former European red-brick residence built in the 19th century on the hillside above Kobe, who cultivates a sophisticated, French-style art de vivre, is a master of the art of producing divine dishes. He acquired this expertise in France in the 1990s, particularly during a period spent with the Loiseau family with whom he has maintained a long and loyal friendship. He is already the owner of a highly-reputed restaurant in Tokyo, and inscribes his menus with his motto, in French: “manger vrai, manger frais”.

On his menu: the famous fugu or puffer fish and its roe with crispy potatoes, caramelised salsify and a vegetable jus, fillet of red mullet served two ways, and the peerless Kobe beef prepared in a salt crust.

Hirohisa Koyama - Aoyagi (Japan)

Near Tokushima, on the island of Shikoku, Hirohisa Koyama represents the third generation of a great “fine dining restaurant”, now one hundred years old and founded by his grandfather. His books and talks have meant that he is well known beyond the shores of Japan (notably in France). His restaurant is located on a hillside facing the Naruto strait, and benefits, thanks to the strongest sea currents on the planet, from the best fish and seafood in the world.

This Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux, who says of himself that he is “always inspired by anything new blowing in the wind”, is renowned for his virtuosity in the use of the knife, the summit of Japanese cuisine. His cuisine, served facing a sophisticated garden, is the culmination of a whole art, a whole philosophy. As in the traditional tea ceremony, it is a question of “living fully in the present moment”. The Fubako Hassun is a treat for the eyes and the palate and is a subtle seasonally-inspired composition; the famous Naruto sea bream provides the basis for the legendary dish known as Tai no Tantan. “In my dish, he says, my experience and my life come together in one historical moment”. Through the flavours, a meditation on life past and present.

William Bradley – Addison (United States)

Restaurant Addison is considered to offer the best culinary experience in southern California and this can only be due to the talent of its chef, William Bradley. He is inspired by an admiration for contemporary French cuisine, and grounds his dishes in the rigorous choice of the finest seasonal ingredients. His goal is to bring out the best in them by enhancing their unique qualities. He seeks first and foremost to recreate their flavours in all their purity, and prepares, for example, Manila clams à la nage with glacéed French radishes, accompanied by a delicate John Dory in a butter sauce.

He has seemingly limitless opportunities to pair foods and wines thanks to a collection de 36,000 bottles, and, most especially, thanks to the work of Jesse Rodriguez, a remarkable sommelier who travels the great vineyards of the world to create, with local wine producers, special vintages.

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