Bouquet of fragrance and flavours


LABOUR OF LOVE La caille   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Inspired by a spring garden in the south of France, Chef Wilfried Bergerhausen wove magic with his dishes at The Leela Palace

I met a young artiste the other day. His name is Wilfried Bergerhausen and he is revered in gourmet food circles for his creations — dishes that weave magic with just a few flavours.

The Michelin-starred chef likes revisiting traditional classics and giving them a contemporary twist. Barely 30, he is among the top chefs in the world today. At 28, he became the executive chef of Le Cirque in Las Vegas.

Chef Wilfried, who grew up in the south of France and has been working in the United States for many years now, was in India to leave his imprint at Le Cirque at The Leela Palace New Delhi.

Wilfried Bergerhausen

Wilfried Bergerhausen  

The chef believes in minimalistic cooking and plating — and that’s quite a change from the overdosing of design and flavours that was quite the trend till recently.

His style was evident in the dishes that he presented before us, a small group of invitees. To start with, for vegetarians, there was l’ Asperge —white asparagus panna cotta with compressed cucumber and pear, flavoured with sorrel herb.

I opted for le homard, lobster ravioli in a kohlrabi casing with saffron yuzu, a mildly tart sauce. I enjoyed the crunchy casing — and the look of the samosa-shape of the homard.

The pea soup — le petit pois — was excellent. The soup came with mascarpone mousse and crispy buckwheat. In one little glass there was the mascarpone and puffed buckwheat. On this they poured the cold pea soup, which was smooth and so lightly flavoured that it whetted the appetite in a pleasing way.

I enjoyed the St-Jacque — seared scallops with Japanese sea urchin and sauces of ginger lemon grass, lime leaves and turnip. Scallops have to be cooked just right — for even a bit here and there can ruin the dish. This was perfect, with just the right flavours of gingery lemon grass in it. The turnip gave it a crunch that was rather nice and I liked the texture and strong flavour of the sea urchin.

La St-Jacque

La St-Jacque  

But what made my day was la caille — quail stuffed with foie gras, quail legs in mashed potato covered in gold. The quail meat was tender and the foie gras gave an edge to the fowl meat. The mashed potato and legs with a light ultra-thin gold foil made for a pretty picture — and a delightful dish as well. The chef said the idea was to present it like a goose’s golden egg. Neat, I thought!

I had a small scoop of the ice cream — mango, Sichuan pepper, lemon cream, pomello meringue and chamomile — and left for an appointment with the sharp taste of Sichuan pepper happily lingering in my heart.

The special dinner is available this evening, from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. The hotel tells me that a meal is for ₹6500 plus taxes.

I read that the chef grew up soaking in every bit of the food process — from production to cooking. His grandfather owned a farm while his father worked in the front-office of restaurants. He was introduced to some of the best known restaurants in France through his father.

Chef Wilfried did his magic on me. When you have been inspired by a spring garden in the south of France — as the chef says he was — what do you expect, but a nice bouquet of fragrance and flavours?

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 12:26:31 AM |

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