A Conversation with Christopher Hache, Head Chef at Hotel Crillon, a Rosewood hotel
In March of 2013, the Crillon closed its doors for large-scale renovation work. I recently met with Christopher Hache, the head chef of the hotel’s restaurants, to discuss the steps he has taken to prepare for the re-opening of the hotel (under the new management of the Rosewood Group), in addition to various subjects related to food services in luxury establishments.
Christopher has traveled extensively these last two years while undergoing training in various restaurants. He brings back with him some memorable experiences from his travels abroad. I can hardly wait to discover the wonders of his forthcoming dishes. He is one of those few French chefs who have traveled far and wide to share their expertise with other chefs around the world.
Christopher, in the last few months you’ve gone abroad to meet chefs all over the world (New-York, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco, Lima, Kyoto, Santiago, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, etc.). What do you remember most from these meetings and culinary experiences? What do you pay attention to when you encounter foreign cuisine? Have you discovered interesting traditions or rituals from a culinary perspective? How might these shape your way of cooking?
I suggested this ‘world trip’ to Hotel Crillon before they closed; I felt a need to discover new concepts in restaurants, hotels, and trends that were going on in the world. I’ve always worked in France, and mostly in Paris, so I seized this chance to discover other cultures, meet international chefs. It’s been an extraordinary experience.
Every chef I’ve met has welcomed me with open arms and offered me the opportunity to share their cuisine, their traditions, with great generosity and humility. I paid careful attention to everything that went on; I was always curious to see new products and techniques.
I chose establishments run by local chefs who were natives of their country. I wanted to understand their philosophies, the ways in which they were interpreting their cuisine, their techniques, and practices.
My assessment is that today, among the clients who come to us, the ones who travel frequently are becoming increasingly harder to please—but also more open-minded, thanks to the evolution of cuisine throughout the world. Today, it’s possible to enjoy an excellent meal anywhere you go, with various styles and concepts.
I will never change my philosophy of cooking. However, my approach will be to plunge even deeper into the tastes, techniques, flavors, and products, all while maintaining my identity. Having a solid foundation that allows me to practice restraint and not become scattered remains my fundamental principle.
What do you remember most from what you saw in the United States?
I witnessed some exceptional things in the United States; the approach of the American chefs is truly extraordinary. Almost all of them have their own vegetable garden, and they’ve cultivated a strong movement towards a true farm- to-table spirit.
For instance, the restaurant Blue Hill Farm, run by Chef Dan Barber, is a fantastic example of what you might find. Essentially, what Chef Barber does is try to incorporate natural ingredients into all of his dishes. He has his own garden and works with local farmers. He tries, for instance, to produce natural foie gras by avoiding force-feeding geese.
Then there’s Thomas Keller, whom I had the chance to work under at his restaurant, French Laundry. He keeps his own vegetable garden in front of his restaurant. What he’s after is sharing a true story and identity. It’s authentic; it’s a real experience, not just a meal. It’s an ensemble of elements that exist in correlation: the atmosphere, the art of the table, the wine, the presentation…rather like the French art of welcoming.
The restaurants where Christopher Hâche has trained:
– The FRENCH LAUNDRY, Chef Thomas Keller, 3 Michelin Stars, N°47 Fifty Best (1 week)
– The Restaurant at MEADOWOOD, Napa Valley, Chef Christopher Kostow, 3 Michelin stars (1 month)
– FIFTY SEVEN, L.A, Chef David Nayfeld (1 week)
– Restaurant ANDRE, Chef André Chiang, N°38 Fifty Best (1 month)
– Restaurant QUINTESSENCE, Chef Shuzo Kishida, 3 Michelin stars, N°95 World Fifty Best (1 week)
– KIKUNOI HONTEN, Chef Yoshihiro Murata, 3 Michelin stars, (1 week)
– ATERA, NYC, Chef Matt Lightner, 2 Michelin Stars (1 month)
– CORTON, NYC, Chef Paul Liebrandt, 2 Michelin Stars (1 month)
– D.O.M, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Chef Alex Atala, N°6 World Fifty Best (2 months)
– BORAGÓ, Santiago, Chile, N°56 Fifty Best South America (1 week)
– OSADIA Restoran, Santiago, Chile, Chef Carlo Van Muhlenbrock (2 weeks)
– MAIDO, Lima, Peru, Chef Mitsuharu Tsumura, N°10 Fifty Best South America (1 week)
– CENTRAL Restaurante, Lima, Peru, Chef Virgilio Martinez Veliz, N°50 World Fifty Best (1 week)
– ASTRID & GASTÓN, Lima, Peru, N°14 World Fifty Best (1 week)
Laurent Delporte, an editor and conference speaker, is a strategic expert in the sector of hotels. A visionary, he brings his unique look on hotels in service to the decision-makers in the industry, whether to enhance the development of new projects or strategic visions.
Laurent has visited and audited over 350 hotels across the world and also participates in mystery visits to provide quality control for the world’s finest hotels.