Throughout history, the most powerful philosophical minds have striven to define the elusive concept of perfection. Aristotle declared that “pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.” while Oscar Wilde was noted as saying “It is through Art, and through Art only, that we can realize our perfection.” The crux of gastronomic perfection is attained at Les Ambassadeurs in the Hotel Crillon. From the gorgeous eye and mouth candy, hyper-creative dishes executed to perfection by Jean-François Piège who is as much a fine artist as he is a chef to the magnificent service and the opulent surroundings of the dining area located in the refurbished ballroom of a Duke who once owned the palace -everything comes together to create a very unique and special experience. Visiting Les Ambassadeurs is more like a visit to the Opera than a visit to just any old upscale restaurant.
Although the seven course meal offered dish after dish of pure perfection, one of my favorites was the Bar de Ligne complimented by endives, ham and shaved black truffles. The image of our Maitre d’ briskly yet passionately shaving the black truffles onto my dish, with a strangely amorous grin on his face was priceless. The feeling around this restaurant is that everyone is out to make you happy. I honestly could not find one fault with Les Ambassadeurs and if you’re lucky enough to ever be able to experience it, then I doubt you will either.
10 Place de la Concorde
In the Hotel Crillon
Q & A with Chef Jean-François Piège
Haya Zoubi: If you weren’t a chef what would you be doing?
Jean-François Piège: I would have been a designer because being in charge of the comfort of people is like giving happiness and pleasure when you cook for them.
Q: Describe your cooking style in 3 words:
A: Good, beautiful and made for happiness.
Q: What was the inspiration behind the menu you created for Les Ambassadeurs?
A: First of all I wanted to tell a story. The story of a cook which tells and inspires itself of what he has already done, in order for this story to be engraved in the present times.
Q: The Comme un Vacherin is one of the most beautiful pieces of art/dessert that I’ve seen. Tell me how you developed this dessert and what are some of the ingredients?
A: First of all, thank you. I use the same ingredients that are used for the traditional vacherin, such as meringue, ice cream, sorbet, whipped cream and fresh fruits. Then I redesigned this dessert in a more playful and lighter way in order for this creation to be part of the world it lives in.
Q: What region in the world offers your favorite cuisine?
A: Nowadays, everywhere in the world we can enjoy good food, and we cannot say that one specific geographic area is better than another.
Q: When you just want to make something simple, quick, and delicious, what do you prepare?
A: At home I like preparing fresh spaghetti Bolognese -One steak, a tomato, spaghetti and cheese.
Q:How do you keep your staff inspired?
A: By prompting them because my role is to lead and manage them, to be the locomotive engine. By the way, I like this maxim: “everything has to change so that nothing would change”, always being in movement.
Q: What is your favorite ingredient to work with?
A: I like to cook with seasonal ingredients, such as ceps, tomatoes, strawberries and cherries.
Q: What is your favorite thing about working at Les Ambassadeurs?
A: I like working at Les Ambassadeurs because I feel lucky to work in such an historic place and to be able evolve in a wonderful room which used to be the ball room of the Duke de Crillon.
Q: What are your favorite cities in the world?
A: Besides Paris, I like New York and Los Angeles.