World Gourmet Festival 2012 – Bangkok: Chef Michael Mina & Chef Frédéric Vardon

As I feasted on the lunch buffet (you may view the pictures HERE) at the Fours Seasons Bangkok, I waited for the 2 chefs Chef Michael Mina & Chef Frédéric Vardon to make their appearance.
Chef Micheal Mina dish’s was Roasted Foie Gras with Pineapple Confit, Macadamia Crunch, Green Cardamom Glaze while Chef Frédéric Vardon (Le 39V, Paris, France), staying true to his French cooking roots showed us his Argenteuil line-caught Sea Bass with Cooked and Raw Asparagus.

I liked Michael’s dish better as he gave tribute to some of the local ingredients by incorporating it into his dish, namely pineapples, cardamon and Thai basil leaves. We got to sample his recipe after the demonstration and I liked how the macadamia nuts complements the livery foie gras (think nutty and buttery) as well as how the tangy sweet Thai pineapples gave a sweet edge to the overall dish.

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Chef Michael Mina’s Roasted Foie Gras with Pineapple Confit, Macadamia Crunch, Green Cardamom Glaze.

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Recipe:

INGREDIENTS & COMPONENTS. 

Roasted Foie Gras

Hudson Valley Foie Gras 65 g
Golden Pineapple 35 g
Macadamia Nuts 15 g
Green Cardamom 5 g
Curry Leaves, picked off the stem 5 g
Chives 3 g
Duck Jus 15 ml
Sauternes 15 ml
vanilla bean 1 ea
fresh pineapple juice 10 ml

Butter 200 g
Salt, sea 14 g
Flour, All Purpose 150 g
sugar 250 g
Almonds, Marcona 450 g

Proposed Components:
Macadamia Crunch
Pineapple Confit
Roasted Foie Gras

Method and Notes:
1. Get pan hot and sear foie on all sides.
2. While foie is cooking, sear pineapple and glaze with juices.
3. When foie is nearly cooked, add sauternes, duck jus and pineapple juice to pan and glaze foie.

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4. Place pineapple on plate and crust with macadamia crunch and chives.
5. Spoon pan juices around plate.
6. Garnish with curry leaf, grated macadamia.

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Chef Notes:
The foie gras is pan roasted and glazed with pineapple-sauterne jus that is scented with vanilla, green cardamom and black pepper. Thick rectangles of pineapple which have been poached in its own juices are then seared (9cmx3cm) and used as a pedestal for the foie.
The macadamia nut crunch is a streusel like topping which is mixed with chives and crusted on the roasted foie.

** End of recipe. 

After a short break is Chef Frédéric Vardon.

While Chef Michael is relaxed and very friendly, Chef Frédéric Vardon is well, French.

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He was meticulous, passionate and if not a little haughty.

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Here’s his recipe for Argenteuil line-caught Sea Bass with Cooked and Raw Asparagus (Feeds 10):

1 sea bass 4.5/5kg
65 very firm green asparagus stems

Sea Bass Sauce:
Fish head
1/2 bulb of fennel
3 shallots
3 lemons
½ head of garlic
1L white chicken stock
fennel seeds to taste
peppercorns to taste

Asparagus mash and puree:
1 kg wild green asparagus
70 ml olive oil to season
70 ml white chicken stock

Asparagus seasoning:
18.75 g green asparagus finely diced when raw 12.5 g asparagus puree
62.5 g olive oil emulsion
37.5 g dried asparagus tips
62.5 g asparagus mash
2 lemons
25 ml truffle oil
15 cl chicken broth
2 soft-boiled eggs (35 mins at 68°)
fleur de sel

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Method:
Scale and fillet the sea bass. Blanche it and divide into portions of 140/160g and set aside.

Sea Bass Sauce:
Keep the sea bass heads separate from the garnish. Sweat the shallots, fennel, garlic, lemon slices and pepper without allowing it to become coloured. Mix the heads with the garnish and moisten with the calf’s foot jelly, white stock and fish fumet. Reduce slowly until a good consistency is obtained.
Strain and finish the sauce with butter.

Garnish:
Trim 40 stems of green asparagus, then cut them in 10/12cm lengths then create rings. Cook the asparagus in boiling salted water then refresh in iced water.
Peel four of the remaining asparagus stems, wash them and cut into fine ribbons lengthwise. Serve seasoned with a dash of olive oil, salt and pepper and set aside.

Prepare the asparagus puree:
Slice the reserved asparagus stems into fine rounds. Sweat the rounds in olive oil to season, just cover with white stock and cook fully. User a food processor to process half the asparagus into a very fine puree, then sieve it and chill it on ice to maintain the colour. Make the puree by crushing the other half of the asparagus with a knife.

Finishing:
Cook the white meat of the sea bass on greaseproof paper at 42ºC, ensuring it is cooked through but just lightly coloured.
Heat the asparagus in butter with a small amount of stock.
Arrange the asparagus seasoning in the centre of the plate and the asparagus stems on the side, placing the raw ribbons on top, surrounded by the sea bass head reduction.

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We got a few tips from Chef Frédéric Vardon on cooking the delicate sea bass, especially on keeping the skin intact while pan frying for the much adored crispy skin.

Start with cooking both sides of the fillet using greaseproof paper. Minimal oil is required and it ensures no contact of the skin or delicate flesh to the pan.

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Do not flip it around. Once it’s cooked on one side, then turn to cook on the other side.

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Peel the grease proof paper off carefully and give the skin side a few shakes of seasoning before taking it off the pan.

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Final step: Plating.

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As with the foie gras earlier by Chef Michael, we were given sampling portions of the sea bass as well. It was nothing extraordinary save for the very delicious asparagus puree and very fresh sea bass. But that’s understandable as it was a very short session.  I trust his more elaborate meals are best savoured at his restaurant The Le 39V in Paris, France.

It was an honour to have met both Chef Michael Mina & Chef Frédéric Vardon. Here’s a little background of both.

Chef Michael Mina is a James Beard Award-winning chef. He has been a featured guest chef at the James Beard House numerous times; and cooked for three U.S. presidents: Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama!

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Born in Cairo, Egypt and raised in Ellensburg, Wash., Michael has had a love affair with the kitchen from a very early age. Michael’s epicurean journey began in 1987 at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. During those 18 months of formal schooling, he spent his weekends sharpening his natural talents with hands-on experience in Charlie Palmer’s kitchen at the upscale Aureole in New York City.

At the start of his career, Michael was presented with the opportunity of a lifetime with then Executive Chef of the Bel Air Hotel in Los Angeles, George Morrone. Today Michael’s culinary and business vision led to the founding of his company, Mina Group, with partner Andre Agassi in 2002.
Under the auspices of Mina Group, he has opened 18 concept restaurants and a lounge concept including MICHAEL MINA, CLOCK BAR, RN74, BOURBON STEAK, ARCADIA, STONEHILL TAVERN, SEABLUE, NOBHILL TAVERN, STRIPSTEAK, and AMERICAN FISH.

During its first year, MICHAEL MINA has already been awarded one Michelin star and “Restaurant of the Year” in Esquire’s annual 2011 “Best Restaurants” issue. Now it is a Michelin two-star and San Francisco Chronicle’s four-star award (for the original MICHAEL MINA at San Francisco’s Westin St. Francis on Union Square) and a Michelin’s one-star award for MICHAEL MINA in Las Vegas.

Next, Chef Frédéric Vardon.
Frederic Vardon was born in Normandy into a family of charcutiers and farmers. His passion for cuisine was passed down to him from his grandmother, who instilled in him a passion for cuisine made with love and made for sharing.

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In 1994, Chef Frédéric team up with Alain Ducasse, where he worked as corporate chef for 14 years.

A globetrotter, Frédéric Vardon took part in all of the Group’s adventures throughout the world (Spoons, Benoit Tokyo, Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester, etc.). Now Chef Frédéric helms the elegant  Le 39V in Paris, France, offering cuisine that draws its inspiration from French culinary heritage and uses new cooking techniques to interpret the classics in a contemporary manner. Awarded its first Michelin star in February 2012, Le 39V offers guests a cuisine that is tasty and honest, bringing them the best flavours of the best products available.

There were all together about 8 -9 chefs for the whole week of the World Gourmet Festival 2012 but I was only in attendance for 2 days.
My aim for 2013 is to be able to attend a few of the dinners and all of the cooking demonstration if possible! 🙂

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World Gourmet Festival 2012 @
Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok
155 Rajadamri Road, 10330 Bangkok, Thailand
Tel. +66 2 126-8866 Fax. +66 2 253-9195
Website: http://www.fourseasons.com/bangkok/