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Traditions. They are deeply rooted in my culture, the culture of my country of origin, Japan. They are also, clearly, at the basis of French gastronomy. As my aim was to promote both cultures, I followed a classical career path with Relais & Châteaux as my guide. First in Japan, in some of the Association’s finest restaurants, and then in France, in the kitchens of its finest traditional restaurants such as L’Espérance à Vézelay, Les Pyrénées in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, Relais Bernard Loiseau in Saulieu and today, L’Auberge des Templiers in Boismorand, one of the very first members of Relais & Châteaux. A key restaurant in the history of French cuisine devoted heart and soul to… traditional cuisine.
L’Auberge des Templiers is located in the heart of the Sologne in north-central France. The region is home to many hunters, and we get our game directly from our neighbors. I like the wild pheasant hens, whose flesh remains tenderer as it cooks. The nutty flavor characteristic of pheasant is more pronounced but still delicate. If the bird is roasted, it needs to be marinated and cooked very slowly, then on high heat at the very end to caramelize the skin. Sometimes we cook the breasts separately and make a sauce base with the rest. I prefer to thicken the sauce with foie gras rather than egg to keep it rich and smooth. For my last menu during hunting season at Templiers, I served long, thick macaroni with a stuffing using pheasant dark meat, wild mushrooms and truffle – a combination that worked very well.