Chef Frédéric Vardon is globally recognised as the fabulous French master chef, creator of some of the worlds best restaurants including 39V on Avenue George V in Paris, and now he is bringing his expertise, culinary excellence and his Michelin Star background to the Middle East with the opening of La Residence in Wafi Mall, Dubai.
We steal a few minutes with the culinary genius and take a nostalgic trip down memory lane and an exclusive insight into La Residence
Q: What first inspired your love of cooking?
I grew up with my grandparents and my grandmother always used fresh, organic ingredients, whether it was vegetables from her backyard or poultry from the farm. It came from the source and directly onto our plates. She passed this passion for fresh ingredients and cooking on to me. It was a passion driven by love and the spirit of sharing, and it was what inspired me to pursue this career.
Q: Can you remember the first dish that you ate that made you change the way you think about food?
‘Bresse’ chicken with Morel mushrooms.
Q: You worked alongside Alain Ducasse for many years on several international projects, what did you learn from this and how has this helped you in creating your own restaurants and brand?
Working alongside Alain Ducasse for 14 years was a very interesting and enthralling experience that led me to discover the wealth and diversity of the French land. It also gave me the opportunity to travel all over the world as I was part of all his adventures (Les Spoons – Mauritius, Carthage- Benoit Tokyo, Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester…) It was also Alain Ducasse who taught me that above all, this career is about hard work and responsibility. These experiences influenced my perspective on the culinary world and also inspired me to achieve my own goals in the industry.
Q: You received your first Michelin Star in 2012 for your restaurant 39V on Avenue George V in Paris, was this a key defining moment in your career and how has this paved the way for future projects?
It was a tremendous joy for myself and for the whole team. Receiving a Michelin star was a great reward and it was an honour to be recognized for our hard work. It also gave us the opportunity to expand our client base and reach new clientele.
Q: Your restaurants are world-famous but have previously been located in Paris, how is La Residence in Dubai a transition point for you as a chef? Have you had to adapt anything?
When you open a restaurant in another country, you always have to adapt your offer somewhat to fit the environment, cultural or otherwise. However, Dubai customers are multicultural, and in Paris we also have a variety of patrons that come to experience traditional French cuisine. We will offer the same to our Dubai customers, real French flavours with a contemporary twist. We will try to have most of our produce come from France; however, we will also use produce that is local as well as from neighboring countries when needed. It will require a slight adaptation at times, but we will always stay true to our image, as that’s the only way we can truly introduce a new cuisine to the local market.
Q: How will La Residence aim to bring a taste of authentic French cuisine to a demanding Middle Eastern market?
I was keen on expanding internationally because I wanted to transmit knowledge and to showcase, at my humble level, the art of French living. We will look to take traditional recipes but deliver them with a contemporary reinterpretation of the traditional cuisine. A so-called neoclassical kitchen, a traditional cuisine made gourmet.
Q: What is your inspiration behind La Residence?
The opportunity to introduce a contemporary French brasserie deluxe that perfectly matches my culinary spirit, with special attention to comfort, decor and tableware. We want people to think of La Residence as their home away from home, a place to spend their time over lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner. For a culinary perspective, I wanted to expand on the legacy of French cuisine. I’ve been fortunate to work with amazing French master chefs, and to discover the richness and variety of French cuisine. My inspiration comes from this culinary heritage, one that I revere.
Q: Why did you choose to locate your first restaurant in Dubai in The Raffles?
Life is made of opportunities and the opportunity to open the restaurant at the Raffles Hotel was one not to be missed! The location is great and it allowed us to create a warm space where people are just as comfortable entertaining corporate clients as dining with loved ones.
Q: What can we expect from the menu at La Residence and what will be the key signature dishes that we can look forward to?
We will cook the way we know how, the French way, they way we did in Paris. The most important thing is that the food is always flavourful, and full of quality and sincere tastes. The seasonality of produce must also be respected, and that will be reflected in our food. True to the Gallic spirit, the menu will feature traditional dishes selected from all over France, including dishes such as: organic soft-boiled egg, Royal-style ‘wild mushrooms, toasted soldiers, Maine lobster Thermidor’s spinach and mushroom and souffle Classic Grand Marnier.
Q: What is your opinion overall of the Dubai culinary scene as it attempts to establish itself as a key worldwide destination for food lovers?
I think Dubai has definitely become a gastronomic destination rivaling cities such as New York, London and Tokyo. As a major tourism and business destination, Dubai welcomes a large number of gourmets from all over the world. At this crossroads of cultures, many types of cuisine, including French cuisine have found a place in one of the F&B capitals of the world.
Q: Do you have a personal mantra that you choose to live and work by?
“We should honour what the earth offers and respect those who farm, who sow and harvest because the best quality products are the results of a perfect harmony between Nature and Man”.
La Residence will open short in Wafi Mall, ground floor. For further information please click here