Let’s be honest; how often do you get an invitation to come and enjoy dishes prepared by 3 star Michelin chefs? Not every day I would assume. I had never had it happen to me before, so you can imagine I was jumping up and down when I got the invitation and the question if I could and wanted to attend.
The dinner started relatively late (he remember I am Dutch!) around 8.30 pm. The L’Atelier Nespresso is in essence a pop-up restaurant, although that is maybe too simple a term for this great event that takes place in a secret location somewhere in the world. The Bocuse D’Or was taking place at the same time in Lyon and on the night of the 27th a VIP dinner was schedules with special guests, invited press and bloggers. The location was fantastic and I understood it is normally a photo studio, so I felt right at home… 🙂
Upon entry it was already quite busy. The guests came from all corners of the world, making it an incredibly international company. The tables where more or less arranged around various regions to make sure we could all talk to one another.. 😉 Our table had Austria, Germany, Norway, Holland of course and I believe maybe one or two more. Not sure. It was a long table so I didn’t get to talk to everyone.
The menu was created by chef’s Emanuel Renaut en David Toutain (see below for more information) and the challenge for the chefs was to create a menu around the theme of coffee. Now I had thought that pairing coffee with a dessert would an easy task really but how to incorporate it into savory dishes I had no idea. I was very curious to see what they had come up with.
I have to confess that I didn’t taste the coffee very well in the first dish. It was a delicious dish; spaghetti from salsify with black truffle and I understood there was a bit of coffee powder over the top but that was really too subtle for me to taste. The second dish had a clear coffee taste to it. Monkfish with coffee.. If you say it like that it doesn’t immediately sound like something I would have to try but it paired wonderfully well. The monkfish and the veal where my two favorite dishes of the night.
We had a really good spot to look at all the action in the kitchen. It was completely open so we had a clear view of what was going and as you can maybe guess by looking at the photos it was hectic! All guests had to be served at the exact same time (per table) and since most dishes where warm it is crucial to finish all the dishes on time too. The space they had to work in was never intended as a full fletched kitchen so kudos for the men and women that produced all those delights from the space they had! I’d imagine it would be different in a ‘real’ kitchen!
Personally the mackerel was my least favorite dish of the day, but other guests found that a top dish, which goes to show that you cannot argue about taste. The dessert looked a little weird. I thought for a minute that we would be served a tile of some sort… 🙂 It turned out to be a really fluffy hazelnut mousse, which was delicious but way too big! And of course the evening was ended with a glass of Nespresso coffee. The wines during dinner were selected by the worlds best sommelier Paolo Basso. Nothing was left to chance! Rumors are that L’Atelier Nespresso might go to Belgium next year. So if you’re in the area and can get a ticket… I would definitely recommend doing that!
Emanuel Renaut received his third Michelin star in 2012. He followed his culinary training in Paris, started his career at Les Ambassadeurs together with Christian Constant. He worked for 7 years in the Claridges kitchen in London to return to the mountains of Megève in 2004. Here he creates his current restaurant Le Flocon de Sel.
David Toutain came into cooking by accident. He follow a classmate and a few years later he found the meaning in his life; cooking At the age of 20 he starts working at L’Arpège where Alain Passard is shifting his focus to greens. Within a year David becomes the second in command and it turns out that vegetables are his passion. In the years after he works in Spain and New York to return to France in 2010 to open L’Agapé Substance. In 2013 he goes away for a year to travel and taste the flavors of the world, to return at the end of 2013 to Paris where he opens his restaurant David Toutain and in 2014 he lauches Identi-T, a dining room next to his restaurant… And he is only just starting!
Disclaimer: I waas at L’Atelier Nespresso by invitation of Nespresso but all opinions are mine!