With over 20 restaurants in just the United States alone, chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten's influence can be felt from coast to coast. We caught up with the restaurateur to chat about his latest project, the Billecart-Salmon Champagne dinner, which he'll host at his Beverly Hills outpost this Tuesday.
You're teaming up with Billecart-Salmon Champagne to create an evening for diners on the 10th, what appealed to you about this partnership? JEAN-GEORGES VONGERICHTEN: I have a great working relationship with the Billecart- Salmon team. We have been serving Billecart at my restaurants for years and recently developed a special Jean-Georges label. When their team came to me and asked me to be a part of their 200th anniversary celebration by cooking with the renowned Chef Alain Passard, it was an opportunity I could not pass up. Chef Alain is one of my favorite chefs and to have him cooking with my team in my kitchen is an honor.
What should attendees expect from the dinner in terms of food and wine pairings? JGV: The menu is made up of five savory courses, each including a dish from myself and Chef Alain Passard, plus dessert. Each course will be paired with a special Billecart Salmon cuvee.
I imagine chefs try to impress you all the time when you dine out, what are some of the best meals you've had in the past year or so? JGV: There are so many great restaurants I have been to in different cities around the world. I am a huge fan of Japanese cuisine, specifically Masa in New York City. Every time I am in Paris, I like to eat at Chef Alain Passard's restaurant, Arpège. I look forward to eating at Bestia while in Los Angeles during this upcoming visit this week.
You have outposts around the United States, which makes it impossible to touch every dish that leaves the kitchen. How do you manage to maintain the high level of quality you do at each of your restaurants? JGV: It is all about choosing and training the local team onsite. After hiring a chef de cuisine and general manager, I train them side by side with my executive team, whether it be in New York City or the city in which the restaurant is located. After the training, we keep in constant communication, through sending photos of new dishes, weekly conference calls and text messages. I visit each restaurant a few times a year and send support before and after the visit to make sure standards are met and maintained.
What's next for you? JGV: I recently reopened JoJo on the Upper East Side of New York City after a full renovation. The next project we are working on is opening at the South Street Seaport in New York City in the Tin Building.