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A date with two Michelin-starred chefs

Free up your calendars as two Michelin-starred chefs are set to cook up a storm in Mumbai this April as part of a bespoke fine-dining experience at JW Marriott, Juhu

April promises to be a happy month for foodies in Mumbai. As part one of two series (the latter will take place at the end of this year), JW Marriott will host two Michelin-starred chefs, Chef Laurent Peugeot, who owns Le Charlemagne Pernand Vergelesses near Beaune in France and Giovanni D'amato, who runs Ristorante il Rigoletto in Italy, for five days each starting April 8. The hotel has joined hands with 4XFOUR, a Singapore-based company, which curates bespoke fine dining experiences in Asia.

From April 8-12, Chef Peugeot, who marries Japanese and French cuisines, will woo taste buds with his contemporary food, followed by Chef D'amato's presentation of traditional Italian fare in an artful way from April 15-19. Excerpts from the interviews:

'French and Japanese cuisines make a great alloy'
Chef Laurent Peugeot, Le Charlemagne Pernand Vergelesses, Beaune in France

Q. Tell us about your fusion food?
A. During my childhood, my grandmother instilled in me the practice of traditional French cooking. I was raised to respect the quality of produce and focus on their natural flavours.

My foray into Japanese cuisine came about when I decided to further hone my skills in precision and tradition.
I always start with the French influences in a dish, and then work my way on the taste, texture and techniques of the Japanese cooking. For example, I work essentially with the technique of controlled cooking at low temperature and use a lot of marinades and wines.

The techniques of Japanese cooking, which are strict and regimental, go very well with the delicacies of traditional French cooking.

Q. What can patrons look forward to at the dinner in Mumbai?
A. I wanted to bring a part of Le Charmelagne with me to Mumbai. Thus through the dishes, guests will get a glimpse of my world of cuisine. Guests will be treated to an eight-course Franco-Japanese menu such as Scallops marinated with Sake, Langoustine (lobster) and miso-glazed eggplant Dengaku, and Strawberries with Thai Basil Sorbet Rocket Cream Cheese.

Q. What research did you do before creating the menu for an Indian palate that loves spicy food?
A. I compared the complexity of an Indian dish to the dishes that I wanted to bring to the India market. While the dishes are not spicy, I hope that the different-layered tastes will bring a sense of familiarity to the Indian palate.

'I cook from the heart'
Giovanni D'Amato, owner of Il Rigoletto, Italy

Q. You like to rely on the basic food ingredients while cooking. Share an insight into your style of cooking?
A. Since I was young, I've always learnt to cook from the heart; it is the best tribute to the ingredients. My cuisine is born out of my own experiences, without any outside influences. In Italy, we say, 'It is easy to cook for anyone, but a special dish can only come from a special chef.' On my travels, I prefer using local ingredients and match them with my recipes.

Q. Can you talk about your early days and initial influences?
A. When I was a little boy, I often watched my grandparents in their trattoria (Italian restaurant). They cooked and prepared their food with such passion. They taught me to be passionate about what I do, be it in life or in the kitchen, and to use the best produce possible. I remember enjoying their huge feasts they used to cook at home.

Duck foi gras fig and pumpkin

Q. Italian food is one of the most popular cuisines in the world. How do you think the cuisine has evolved over the years?
A. My cooking style is traditional but as Italy is also deeply rooted in arts, my dishes have an artful presentation. Over the years, Italians are proud of this evolution, but hold their culture and heritage high. We believe in looking at the past and moving forward into the future.

Q. Discuss the menu you will be serving in Mumbai?
A. The sky, the earth, the sea, the colours and scents are the base of my inspiration. Through the harmonious combination of the food, aroma and texture, above all, my thoughts about India are the starting points of my creations. The menu will be a presentation of the most popular dishes in my restaurant. I am quite intrigued with the Indian spices and different flavours. I will be using ingredients that are quite similar to the Indian cuisine, particularly saffron and yoghurt. I'll toss up vegetables with cream, Truffles and there will also be Explosion of Tiramisu, one of my most loved desserts.

At: JW Marriott, Juhu Tara Road, Juhu
Call: 28538888
Cost: R7,000 per person

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