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COS Chronicle

A Savorous Journey

INTERVIEW -

The culinary creations of Jérôme Banctel, Executive Chef at La Réserve Paris Hotel & Spa, are crafted with great accuracy, precision, humility and perseverance. Join us as he takes us on a tour of his restaurant and shares his vision of the quest for perfection that is essential to Cos d’Estournel and Michel Reybier.

© Safran Paris
© Safran Paris
Journeys are a recurrent theme in Michel Reybier’s universe: his hotels deliver singular travel experiences, his vineyards offer journeys of the senses and Cos d’Estournel incarnates his passion for exotic voyages. How do you bring this theme to life?

For me the most extraordinary culinary journey consists of seamlessly blending flavors with inspirations from diverse origins. We delicately nuance each dish using flavors, peppers and spices from the four corners of the globe; they hint at other countries, other places. I have travelled a great deal and these voyages have been wonderful sources of learning and inspiration. Today I draw upon what I have seen during my travels to add exotic touches using precise, structured flourishes. Japan, Vietnam, China, Korea, Mexico and Italy are among my sources of inspiration, but what is most precious to me is the way in which a dish created in France can be sublimated using flavors from other culinary traditions. This harmony reminds me of Louis-Gaspard d’Estournel and his journeys to India, where he found inspiration for the unique identity of Cos d’Estournel. It is about seeking elements from our different experiences in foreign places and using them in a subtle fashion to realize the vision and philosophy of La Réserve.

© Pascal Latte
© Pascal Latte
La Réserve Paris and Cos d’Estournel share the same values of exigency, precision and perseverance. What is your vision of the process of creation?

Inspiration is primordial. And that inspiration can only come from a passion for the place where you live and work. Pushing the boundaries, creating a strong identity and building a relationship with your patrons, while maintaining a level of exigency and respect, require a great deal of time. Inspiration also comes from constant research and a ceaseless desire to reinvent oneself. It is about reaching that culminating point: you must take the time to perfect a dish, to let others taste it and ensure that it will be well-received.

We work at it and then we start over; we look for the right answers, while taking everything into careful consideration. The excellence we seek can only be born of the unity we share at La Réserve and Cos d’Estournel, thanks to the guidance of Michel Reybier, who incarnates the identity of each of his properties.

Excellence also requires precision: it means doing things over and over as well as constant experimentation. Innovation motivates us to seek improvements, to go further. Our cuisine must be straightforward and exactly as it should be; for this to happen everything must be calibrated and measured. It begins with the quality of the ingredients and methods that sublimate, rather than denature, them. There are techniques required for each dish, and these techniques demand consistency. Everything—from seasoning to weight to cooking times—must be just perfect, and as precise as possible. But excellence is also about that je ne sais quoi, that nearly indescribable something that titillates the taste buds and surprises, elevating each dish entirely.

© Julie Limont
Is it at this moment, when guests begin to taste your cuisine or the wines of the estate, that emotions come to life?

The feeling is there from the start: each dish is conceived around an emotion as we work as a team, starting with an ingredient, preparing it with precision and sublimating it with flavors and cooking techniques. And then there is its essence, which we seek to reveal using a condiment, a spice or a particular way of cooking or presenting it at the table. The emotion of a dish comes from the way it tastes and its texture but it only really comes to life when it is served: this is the moment when it all comes together. When a guest tastes the dish, he may be moved by the experience but also by a certain harmony. The ingredient and the way we work with it are essential but it is only when we enter the dining room that we really know if the dish is a success, if the flavors and tastes work together and if the service elevates the dish and makes the experience, which also includes the choice of the wine, perfect. When it comes to the wine, we also know exactly what we are looking for and what we want to avoid, but beyond the most obvious choices, we want to be as subtle and precise as possible. This is how we heighten the emotion of the moment. We draw on each other’s sensitivities to find the perfect pairings: we know each wine of Cos d’Estournel and we adjust our choices to bring the level of precision, accuracy and emotion to a climax.


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