Before their Hong Kong debut this week at ÉPURE, we sat down with Chef Michel Troisgros of the celebrated La Maison Troisgros team to find out a bit more about this four-generational culinary family that boasts over half a century of three-Michelin-starred glory. Father-and son-team Michel and Léo Troisgros will be bringing a taste of La Maison Troisgros to Hong Kong diners for three days only, from 21–23 February 2019. Read more about their HK debut here.

Congratulations on the recent move to Ouches. What inspired the move away from a three-generational legendary location and the town that embraced Troisgros for generations? How will La Maison Troisgros develop in the new space and differentiate itself from its history?

Several reasons motivated this decision. Firstly, a rare and beautiful property was for sale a few kilometres away from Roanne. We fell in love with the architecture of the noble and agricultural property. Thanks to its proximity to Roanne, we weren’t moving away from our roots. The 20-hectare property allows space for a garden, a vegetable garden, an orchard and pasture. Secondly, it’s about economics. The previous property near the train station in Roanne was an ageing infrastructure that would need significant investments to refurbish, and we would never have been able to gain ownership of that space. And, finally, the idea of César and Léo being able to open a new chapter, to start from scratch, to take part in designing the place and to enjoy themselves there finally convinced ourselves. The move to Ouches is a natural continuation of our great history – just like my grandfather, Jean-Baptiste, who moved from Chalon-sur-Saône to Roanne in 1930. Our family history is marked by daring decisions.

In the new location, the difference can be seen in the quiet lightness of the space. The blue skies, the snow, the wind, the birds, the horses in the meadows – the environment enriches our well-being. Every area of our process, from the kitchen to the bakery, wine cellar, art collection, garden and lake, is open to our guests to explore freely.

Salmon and sorrel was the dish that defined Troisgro, transforming French cuisine. How would you like the Troisgros legacy to be remembered? What are the dishes you are most proud of and why?

In my opinion, the most beautiful way of teaching is by example. I’m proud to see César and Léo enjoying themselves in what they do. I’m not looking for a special dish to be my hallmark – only time and people’s responses will make a creation an icon. Jean and Pierre Troisgros never thought that their salmon and sorrel dish would be one day written in the nouvelle cuisine history. Amongst all the dishes created in their 40 years of cooking, this one stood out because of its simplicity and timelessness. It was a dish born at the right time. If I could name one dish that expresses the best of my life’s work, it would be white milk and black truffles. It tells an intimate story of simplicity and is an artistic expression of my love for art. Only time will tell if it will be timeless.

Your creations have been described as delicate and fragile yet with intense flavour. How would you describe your own cuisine?

I do things honestly, without trying to copy anyone. Of course, my heritage has an influence on me. I grew up in a family where daily cooking was deliciously flavourful. My father always spiced his dishes using vinegar, mustard, pickles and capers. Those flavours have been embedded in my childhood, and now, I cannot cook without them. My mother, who is Italian, loved lemon, orange, grapefruit, coffee and bitter chocolate. My palate is used to acidic and spicy flavours, so adding acidity in my compositions is natural to me. My cooking is never overly complicated, yet it’s not easy to make either. I merge flavours and consider purity and simplicity the most beautiful elegance.

In your opinion, what makes French cuisine stand out from every other cuisine in the world?

French cooking encompasses thousands of recipes, but most wonderfully focuses on the sauces. There is no cooking in the world that offers such a panorama of complexity and finesse. Game meats, fish, shellfish, chicken, offal, desserts, appetisers – every recipe has its own matching sauce. The repertoire of our national cuisine is constantly being enriched by the flavours of the world. Moreover, French chefs have a constant curiosity for discovering new tastes, ingredients and techniques. Our democracy and our French society have given them the freedom to create.

How would you describe your working relationship with your sons, César and Leo, and how is this relationship different from your working relationship with your father?

My sons could probably give a better answer to this! We are in harmony; our working relationships are excellent and complementary. Everyone has and knows his own role. César leads the kitchen with maturity. Léo is in charge of the sauces and will rotate through various kitchen positions to enrich his knowledge. Both of them have learned from their experiences in France and abroad. Disagreements are not bad occurrences; it is good for the house to be constantly evolving. I want each of them to speak his own mind and to openly exchange ideas. This has always been the case with my father as well. He has trust in me.

What do you think is in store for the next generation of Troisgros chefs?

Both César and Léo will shape Maison Troisgros as how they see it, whether together or separately. In this new big house, everything is possible: a bakery workshop dedicated to the history and creation of baking, a market garden with a focus on soil conservation and traditional heritage seeds. We will continue to create and grow. Since both César and Léo are complementary in their skill sets, they will continue the Troigros name and keep making people dream.

La Maison Troisgros

Priced at $4,888 per person, the tasting menu will offer gourmands a taste of a culinary dynasty without the 13-hour flight (so you can discount the jet lag and airfare from the overall menu price!). Be sure to watch the Troisgros episode on Netflix’s Chef’s Table before embarking on the tasting menu to further appreciate this culinary legacy.

ÉPURE, Shop 403, 4/F, Ocean Centre, Harbour City, 3–27 Canton Road, TST, 3185 8338, book online

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Editor-at-Large, Jetsetter Food Nomad

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