My Michelin-Starred Evening To Remember!

There’s good food, there’s great food and then there’s Michelin starred food! In the world of gourmet cooking, the Michelin star is a stamp of approval for excellence in cooking and it is something that chefs aspire to. So when I was invited by Four Seasons Wines for an evening with Michelin-starred French Chef Baptiste Fournier, I jumped at the chance! The event was held at one of Mumbai’s luxury hotels – the ITC Grand Central.

Chef Baptiste is the Executive Chef of his family-run restaurant La Tour, in the village of Sancerre, two hours from Paris. The restaurant received its Michelin star in 2011, and Chef Baptiste, at 30, is one of the top 6 young chefs in France – the country that leads the way in gastronomy. Chef Baptiste has trained under culinary legends such as Guy Savoy and Alain Passard, both of who run three-Michelin starred restaurants – the highest rating a restaurant can get. He blends classical French cooking techniques with flavours from around the world, including Asian, to create his signature dishes – and I had the good fortune of tasting them!

The event was an invitation-only, formal sit-down six-course dinner at ITC Grand Central’s banquet hall, CJ’s. Chef Baptiste was in-charge of the kitchen and each course was accompanied by a Four Seasons wine. Four Seasons Wines is a brand of the UB Group and the wines are developed with the technical expertise of Bouvet-Ladubay, France. The evening began at Point of View, the rooftop lounge at ITC Grand Central, with a glass (or two) of a lovely sparkling wine from Bouvet-Ladubay. The crowd was a mix of eminent personalities from the food and wine industry as well as stalwarts such as Mr. Deepak Parekh and Mr. Prahlad Kakkar. There was a smattering of journalists and of course, your humble food blogger :) Mr. Kuldeep Bhartee, General Manager of ITC Grand Central set the tone of what was to follow, when he said "ITC Grand Central, Mumbai, has always been in the forefront of serving of world class cuisine on the global high table. Our endeavour is to constantly delve into the world of ingredients, recipes, flavours, aromas and taste to create that 'perfect gourmet experience' for our esteemed guests. The marriage of French food crafted by visiting Michelin Star Chef Baptiste paired with exquisite hand-picked wines makes a perfect recipe for an enthralling experience." And what an experience it was! 

After a bit of mingling on the rooftop, we proceeded to the banquet hall, where several tables of six had been arranged. I found myself seated with the PR Manager of the hotel, couple of journos and a wine writer. Conversation flowed as easily as the wine; first to arrive was the Four Seasons Viognier, a dry wine that was paired with the entree of Fresh Eggplant & Crunch Vegetables. The dish looked beautiful and tasted delicious.

The second course was a Steamed Fresh Water Perch on Spinach with a Lime Court Bouillon that was served at the table out of a teapot. The dish was accompanied by the Four Seasons Sauvignon Blanc. The acidity of the wine complemented the perfectly cooked fish and the dish was a hit at our table.

Then came the dish that I was looking forward to the most – Artichoke Risotto with Black Truffle. After having eaten several badly cooked risottos, it was a pleasure to see and taste how a true master handles the dish. The Arborio rice was cooked al dente and the overall texture was perfect – not soupy or gluggy at all. The slight sourness of the artichokes went well with the risotto and the truffle shavings on top just lifted the dish. The Sauvignon Blanc went very well with this dish as well. There was a collective sigh of contentment as we polished off our plates! Unfortunately, I don't have a pic to share...

The next course was a Roast Saddle of Lamb with Zucchini and Asparagus in a Pan Jus. The lamb was cooked perfectly, just pink on the inside and caramelised on the outside. The jus was a tad heavy on ginger. This dish was accompanied by Four Seasons’ award-winning, barrel aged Barrique Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon that gave a lovely aftertaste to the meat dish.

Next came the palette cleanser course – Pineapple Ravioli, Basil and Yoghurt Sorbet. I have never tasted a dish quite like this before. The sorbet was appropriately tart, the ravioli sweet and the basil went winningly with the entire dish.

The final course was the Hazelnut & White Chocolate, Ice & Crispy Cappuccino. This was another winner of a dish; creamy and crunchy textures played together and the sweetness of the chocolate mingled with the bitter coffee flavours. We all but licked our bowls clean! The sorbet and the dessert were both accompanied by the sparkling Bouvet Rose Excellence.

Chef Baptiste arrived towards the end of the meal, to a thundering applause. He was very down to earth and modest, and cute to boot! On my way out I went up to him and thanked him for the lovely meal – in English,  ending with a ‘Merci beaucoup’ :)

Having wined and dined well, we left clutching mementos from the evening – a beautifully packed bottle of the Barrique Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and a box of chocolates from ITC Grand Central’s patisserie. It was definitely an evening to remember! 

All images (except the last one) are courtesy Four Seasons Wines.

Disclosure: I was invited by ITC Grand Central for this event.

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