Text: Erza s.t.
As one of the first 5-star hotels built in Jakarta, Mandarin Oriental Hotel is considered to be a landmark of prestige in the city. All the restaurants inside are called institutions as a sign of appreciation to its great taste. After a major renovation in 2009, not only did the hotel receive its up-to-date beautification, but they also changed the ‘institutions’ inside. We gave a fond farewell to the Italian fine dining, Zigolini and the Issey Miyake looking Japanese restaurant, Tokio Joe, and welcomed Lyon as the new upmarket French restaurant.
Lyon has received mixed reviews over time and somehow the flavours there have never succeeded to wow me. However, the situation changed this month when the hotel invited me to meet the new dynamic duo of chefs that originate from France. Introducing new executive chef Cyril Calmet and executive pastry chef Remi Martinazzo, who have impressed me no-end with their new flavoors in Lyon.
Having classic renowned dishes as their inspiration, this duo has proven to not only have profound cooking skills, but also great imagination to make their creations current and memorable. During my visit, I tried their new inspirational menu that changes weekly and, oh my! Classic dishes such as escargots cooked two ways that come with bordelaise sauce, sous vide salmon with white asparagus veloute, and the dover sole filet with Mediterranean vegetables and saffron sauce, for example are not only presented with a modern cooking approach and the usage of Asian influence like star anise and saffron, but also with a beautiful composition, making it a feast for both eyes and stomach. On another visit, highlights included the dramatic looking yet delicious aged comte cheese ravioli with beetroot sauce, moist and tasty black cod with celeriac puree, and awesome sturia caviar, perfectly medium cooked beef strip loin with foie gras, with baked potato cooked in duck fat that reminds of the renowned classic dish of tournedos Rossini, and the oh-so-delicious dessert of intense valrhona using 70% dark chocolate with salted caramel cremeux and vanilla cream. Without a doubt, these new highlights at Lyon really gave me the long lost found ‘joie de vivre’ that will make you go oh la la!
Both chefs come from a strong culinary pedigree and are trained in a two Michelin starred restaurant in France. With over 14 years experience in hospitality, Chef Cyril Calmet has experienced North America, the Caribbean to Southeast Asia, where he was posted last in Bangkok. He is bringing classic back through the new ‘Chef Inspiration Menu’ that consists of a 3- to 5-course degustation. On the other hand, Chef Remi Martinazzo, with his outstanding 18 years experience, is mesmerised with our traditional desserts and local ingredients to be the source of inspiration. With such precise execution of classical techniques, combined with a modern approach, The Mandarin Cake Shop will surely have a bright future. Now satisfied with Lyon, I decided to have a quick tete-a-tete with both Chef Cyril and Chef Remi to find out more about their plans with Lyon.
Erza S.T (EST): Can you share with us about the new menu concept in Lyon? What kind of changes are you making?
Cyril Calmet (CC): The main idea is to present French food in a modern way, focusing on quality and flavours with elements of surprise, such as the Aged Comte Cheese Ravioli. We also aim to make Lyon stand on its own, instead of a hotel restaurant.
EST: What is your style and philosophy in cooking?
CC: My philosophy is to create a unique dining experience for guests by offering truly memorable dishes that leave the guests wanting more. I also reflect my experience in travelling the world in my dishes. I use mostly classic techniques with modern presentation; for example, the sous vide technique used to maintain the flavour.
EST: What is the essence of modern French cooking in your opinion?
CC: Modern French cooking is creating healthier dishes. The style has changed in the past few years to use less cream or butter.
EST: What comes to your mind when a creating dessert menu for Lyon? And how do you modernise it?
Remi Martinazzo (RM): When we started renewing the Lyon dessert menu, I wanted to bring the traditional French patisseries that I love the most. Of course, we had to give a touch of modernity by redesigning all the desserts but keep the original taste and texture to maintain its authenticity.
EST: French and Indonesian people both love sweets. In your opinion, what kind of sweetness would work for our local palate?
RM: In my opinion, sweet lovers will always go for the balance between texture and flavour. Some people prefer the sweeter options, such as a chocolate dessert, some other prefer a refreshing sorbet and fruit dessert; both can be found in the new Lyon dessert menu.
EST: Understanding our difficulties of having imported produce in Indonesia, do you use much of our local produce?
CC: We work together with our talented culinary team to locally source some vegetables, edible flowers, fish, and even chocolate for the dessert menu.
EST: What should we expect from the food of new Lyon?
CC: Through the new Lyon menu, we aim to create a memorable dining experience, simplicity in the dishes, yet full of flavour and creativity in terms of presentation.
Mandarin Oriental Jakarta