CHENNAI: Whether it was foie gras at Rs 16,500 a kg or truffle oil at Rs 3,000 for a 60 ml bottle — Chennai’s chefs spared no expense on Monday night to whip up a feast for Goût de France. A salute to French cuisine, featuring 1,000 chefs across five continents – the second edition of the event, despite falling on a weekday, saw an impressive number of covers. Some, we hear, made reservations an entire week in advance given that it was just a one-night affair.
As for those who haven’t heard of foie gras or truffle oil before, don’t be embarrassed. You are not alone. Foie gras is a luxury product made from the flattened liver of a duck or goose. And truffle oil is used to impart the aroma of ‘truffles’ — a strong smelling underground fungus that is considered a culinary delicacy in France and often found with the aid of trained dogs or pigs.
And if you thought that was decadent – there’s more. Norwegian salmon (Rs 2,200 per kg) or classic French varieties of cheese like Brie and Camembert (Rs 1,500-1,800 per kg) also cost a heady sum, according to Afzal Khan, food and beverage manager at Vivanta by Taj-Connemara. Not to mention, he adds, over 15 days to source from carefully curated vendors.
Among the five restaurants in the city chosen to participate were Six O One (The Park Chennai), The Flying Elephant (Park Hyatt Chennai), Ottimo Cucina Italiana (ITC Grand Chola), The Square (Novotel Chennai Sipcot) and The Verandah (Vivanta by Taj-Connemara).
As expected, given the international standard of this gastronomical event, preparation for this one dinner spanned a few months. Ashutosh Nerlekar, executive chef of The Park Chennai recalls, “Each of our menus was sent to the French Embassy a two months ago and was only approved after being vetted by top chef Alain Ducasse.” The latter holds three Michelin stars and owns quite a few high profile restaurants, including one located inside the Eiffel Tower.
As for those who missed it and won’t be heading to the Eiffel Tower any time soon, worry not — you can still have a taste of French cuisine without waiting for next year. “A lot of people liked the Foie Gras so much that we are planning to include it as a topping on our steaks in the new menu,” adds chef Ashutosh. So there you go, two birds, one plate!