Cooking Across Countries
February 1, 2012
Michelin-star chef Laurent Peugeot of Restaurant Le Charlemagne in Burgundy, France – who recently opened a new restaurant LP+Tetsu in Singapore – shares his travel quirks with JACLYN LIM.
1. How often do you travel?
Besides going on work trips to cities like Paris and New York, I used to travel yearly to Singapore as a guest chef with Hilton Singapore. With the opening of LP+Tetsu, I will be going to Singapore as often as four times a year now. During the winter holidays, I spend time with my kids skiing in the French Alps.
2. List some of your travel must-haves.
Top on the list would be my Apple iPad, as it is only on the plane that I have some quiet time to do some work, such as planning menus. I also need my iPhone to constantly communicate with my customers, staff and suppliers, as well as friends. On work trips, bringing my own chef’s uniform is a must. I also never fail to pack my favourite pale blue woollen scarf which I consider to be my good luck charm because it brings me ren qi (Chinese for luck with people).
3. My favourite travelling companion is…
Sebastien Lorgeoux, the owner and interior designer of Alidade, an architecture and interior design firm in France. Our ideas complement each other very well. When he brings me to an art or furniture show, I actually get inspiration from the design pieces for my food creations. For instance, I placed an escargot dish in a crystal bowl, infused it with fragrance and covered it with a lid. When the diner opens the lid, he or she will be able to inhale the fragrance before tucking in.
4. Which countries or cities have inspired or influenced your cooking?
I grew up in a small town in Burgundy, France. My grandmother, a great cook, first taught me how to cook tiny potatoes called ratte by roasting them in goose fat. That started my passion for cooking. Years later, I learnt the art of French gastronomy from Michelin-star chefs Jacques Lameloise of Maison Lameloise and Roland Chanliaud of Le Jardin des Remparts. Then I travelled to Tokyo, Japan, where I worked as the head chef for restaurants like Le Cordon Bleu and Brin de Muguet. One of my most treasured memories involves waking up at 3am to pick the freshest seafood in Tsukiji Market. It was from my time in Japan that I started incorporating Japanese ingredients into my French cuisine.
5. As a chef, what are your thoughts on airline food?
Over the years, the quality of airline food has improved tremendously. I travel on Singapore Airlines most times – it is refreshing for frequent travellers like myself to see the menu change regularly. I still can’t forget being served Singaporean street food like chicken rice and prata (Indian pancakes) with curry on board!
6. How do you usually freshen up after a flight?
On long-haul flights, I fight dehydration by avoiding coffee, tea or alcohol. Instead, I drink plenty of fresh fruit juices and mineral water. I will also do some light stretching on board. Once I’ve touched down, I will head to the gym or jog to relieve fatigue. Lastly, it’s the attitude that goes a long way – if you keep your mindset fresh, you will feel fresh!
7. What’s your dream destination, cuisine-wise?
There are so many places that I would like to visit, such as Vietnam and the Philippines. I will try any dish that I am not familiar with as I am curious about their preparation and use of ingredients, which are very different from what I use. In Vietnam, I would like to try the Hue-style spring rolls with peanut sauce, bun cha (a dry noodle salad with grilled meat) and bo la lot (betel leaf-wrapped grilled beef), just to name a few. In Philippines, a must-try would be the lechon (roasted pig).