Fused Flavours of Jean-Georges
The 50-year-old classically trained French chef discovered Asian cuisine while travelling in the region in his early 20s. He honed his culinary skills while working as a chef in Bangkok, Singapore and Hong Kong.
His latest cookbook, “Asian Flavours of Jean-Georges,” features nearly 200 recipes from his Asian-inspired New York restaurants.
Vongerichten, who has won numerous awards including three Michelin stars.
Q: Where did your passion for Asian food come from?
A: “In Bangkok, everything starts out with a pot of water. You put in some lemongrass and lime leaves, some shrimps, fish sauce, chillies and lime juice which is the best soup in the world, which is tom yum goong. That was shocking. I was thinking, ‘Wait a minute, I was cooking bones for hours and hours, here I have a more fragrant soup with sweet, salty, sour flavours.’ It changed my entire way of thinking after that.”
Q: What are the essential ingredients in your restaurant kitchens?
A: “I don’t know of any restaurant in New York City which doesn’t have a piece of ginger, soy sauce and lemongrass as well. The techniques are still French but all the vegetables, spices and herbs are Asian.”
Q: How important are (restaurant) rankings to you?
A: “It’s rewarding to be on top of your game. You have to perform and sometimes you have a bad year.”
Q: What do you cook for yourself when you eat alone?
A: “Just simple food. A piece of fish. I love eggs, I would make an omelette and would throw in some tomatoes, chillies and basil. I may even put some nutmeg in my eggs, even if it’s not good. I try more creative things at home than at the restaurant.”