Last week, founder of Amuz Gourmet, Chef Gilles Marx teamed up with Michelin-Star Chef Olivier Oddos for a cooking class session. Held at Modena Experience Center, Jakarta, the event opts for a French Cuisine with Japanese Inspiration’ theme, where the two chefs started the day with a cooking demo of a 3-course menu: Hokkaido Scallops Sushi & Crab Meat Yuzu Lime, Cider Vinegar Juice & Chioggia Beet, Stemed Barramundi Back, Squid Ink Risotto, Arugula-Ginger Emulsions and Vanilla Creme Brulle, Hibiscus Macerated Excotic Fruits, dan Pistachio Sables & Red Berry Sorbet, and continued with a hands-on session with the participants.
Indonesia Tatler sits down with Chef Olivier Oddos and Chef Gilles and talked about their culinary endeavors, love for cooking and why sashimi is the best food ever!
Chef Oliver, you have worked at several well-reputable restaurants back in Paris, what makes you decide to move to Japan?
Chef Olivier: It’s because I got an opportunity by the Le Cordon Bleu school, they offered me a job opportunity and I was interested. I planned to stay there for 1-2 years, but after 9 years I think I am stuck [Laughs].
So, do you prefer working in Japan or Paris?
Olivier: Well, it’s completely different. The challenges are different, the produces are different, it’s difficult to make a choice. But at this time, of course I prefer working in Tokyo.
Gilles: His restaurant is in Tokyo now, so. [Laughs]
What are the similarities or differences between the Japanese and French cuisines? And how the two influenced each other?
Chef Olivier: The Japanese cuisine focuses on the products, ingredients and presentation, very similar to the French cuisine. The big difference is maybe the sauce and also in French cuisine we don’t have the tradition of eating raw fish like the tradition in Japan. But both focus on the quality of ingredients.
Chef Gilles: I think Japanese and French cuisines have a lot of similarities, that’s why you have a lot of things to interchange as well between the two cuisines. Both nations concentrate on the product, so the product is the style. We work with very premium products, I mean not premium in price, but we look for the high quality. Then we do as little as we can to the produce, because the produce itself is already nice, so we do very few things to it and then we present the produce to its true taste, and that is probably the similar philosophy in Japanese cuisine. They have minimum intervention, the produce is the star and we just try to make it look nicer.
From where do you draw inspirations for your dishes?
Chef Olivier: In the market, everywhere. Sometimes, in the market I see new products that are in the season. I don’t know what I would do, but I try to cook it and I try to do experiments with those products.
Chef Gilles: I think all chefs are the same you know, I walk to the market and I see nice produce then I need to do something with it, so I just buy it and ideas come. Other inspirations can come from traveling and talking with other chefs, eating in restaurants, the brain is always working and there’s always things happening.
What do you love most about cooking?
Chef Olivier: Cooking for me is a never-ending process since you can try many, many, many, ingredients. When you prepare a very good dish, you’re happy. After a few weeks, you need to try another dish or not it gets boring (laughter).
Chef Gilles: Every day is a different day. It’s never accomplished.
What is your favorite Japanese dish?
Chef Olivier: Of course, I love the fresh seafood and sushi. In the Tsukiji market or the sushi restaurants, it’s very good all the time. It’s not easy to prepare the sushi, it’s very complicated. They have to pay attention to the temperature of the rice when cooking it, quantity of wasabi, size of fish to make the perfect harmony. And when I eat it, it’ very exciting and very good, other than that there are so many choices to choose, I like the tempura, the teppanyaki, the soup.
Chef Gilles: For me, Japanese, I think there’s nothing better than the sashimi. Like I said, very simple, all concentrate on the quality of the produce.
What are your aspirations for the future fusion cooking and cuisine?
Chef Olivier: I’m not a fan of fusion. Because it’s a clash between two cultures and it’s not my passion.
Chef Gilles: Fusion is one basic and then you can put a touch of something, but mixing two different cuisines makes no soul anymore. For me, the future of fusion cuisine is like what you see today. It’s not really fusion, it’s French technique and we adapt a touch from something else. It’s not two cuisines totally blended, because that doesn’t end up anywhere well. So, its one style of cuisine with a touch of something, I think that’s probably the best way to do fusion. The main idea is still in one style then you just use a little technique or inspiration from another cuisine, or maybe the ingredients.
What do you think about the Indonesian food you had today?
Chef Olivier: Oh yeah, they are really good food, very different from in France. The rice is an important ingredient, and I tried different sauces, the coconut and lemongrass leaf, the satay, the peanut sauce, it’s very good.
Are you interested to incorporate any Indonesian dish into your restaurant perhaps?
Chef Olivier: I would think so. Perhaps some influences, like the lemongrass leaf or other ingredients that can be used.