While the esteemed Michelin Chef Jean Georges Vongerichten was in Beverly Hills for 24 hours to debut his new “Lunch in Sixty” at the Waldorf Astoria, I met the chef while dining inside his elegant Jean-Georges dining room.
Jean Georges grew up in Alsace, France, and developed a passion for cooking and food, while studying and working at Auberge de l’Ill as an apprentice to Chef Paul Haeberlin. Later he worked with Paul Bocuse and Master Chef Louis Outhier at L’Oasis in southern France. With his three star Michelin background, the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok, and the Mandarin Hotel in Hong Kong welcomed him into their kitchens.
Currently Jean-Georges has 11 international restaurants and about 25 in the United States, with 13 restaurants in New York City. That is why he was in Beverly Hills for just 24 hours, he has a lot of restaurants to visit each month. Jean-Georges is involved in every aspect of his restaurants, starting with its concept, menu, architectural design, staff selection and training. Inspired by his travels to all of his restaurants, Jean-Georges fuses global culinary flavors into his newly developed dishes.
As an award winning cookbook author for years, his first cookbook, Simple Cuisine, was published in 1990. Cooking at Home with a Four Star Chef, was published in 1998 and earned him the Best Cookbook Award from the James Beard Foundation in 1999. His most recent cookbook, My Favorite Simple Recipes – Home Cooking with Jean-Georges offers easy, quick and seasonal meals that are Vongerichten family favorites.
Sitting at a table for ten, we were given the one page “Lunch in Sixty” menu offering a choice of two starters, entrees and desserts. I immediately chose a bowl of butternut squash minestrone, because I was intrigued to discover what a minestrone soup made with butternut squash would taste like. Instead of a thick tomato Italian based soup, the smooth golden pureed liquid offered a slightly sweet butternut squash base with crunchy sourdough croutons and a sprinkling of micro greens.
Others at the table ordered the kale salad layered with thin strips of broccoli stalk and a soft whole boiled egg. My friend Kendal remarked that the shaved Parmesan cheese and small croutons enhanced the flavors.
Kendal and I made a deal, while I ordered the roasted organic chicken entree, she selected the slow baked salmon with a truffle vinaigrette. Together we would get the opportunity to taste both entrees.
To our surprise, her dish was not the only one heightened with truffles. Jean-Georges and Executive Chef Steve Benjamin arrived at our table with a plate of three aromatic black truffles. French black truffles offer a wet earth, dried berry and hint of cocoa aroma. We learned that France accounts for almost 50% of the world production of black truffles, as the chefs walked around the table and shaved one of the most expensive edible mushrooms on top of each entree.
Cutting into my beautifully roasted chicken, I enjoyed the medallions of soft squash, broccoli florets, and halved brussels sprouts on the plate. What made this dish extra special was the thick and creamy mustard and tarragon sauce. It was ethereal.
My friend’s salmon was served with mashed potatoes with shaved Brussels sprouts and a rich and musky truffle vinaigrette.
For dessert we shared the small flower shaped chocolate cake dusted with powdered sugar. Inside the middle of the cake was melted chocolate that oozed out onto the plate, near an oval scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on top of crushed cocoa nibs. The ice cream was adorned with a crispy lace-like, curved French tuile dotted with more small nibs.
The baked apple plate arrived with thinly sliced apples arranged into a beautiful shiny red pyramid. It almost looked like a giant upside down strawberry on top of a hard, shortbread base and served with a scoop of honey ice cream.
Before leaving, I met Executive Chef Steve Benjamin and learned he had worked in the kitchen at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas before helming the kitchen at Jean-Georges Beverly Hills Beverly Hills. For the holidays, Chef Benjamin partnered with a Canadian luxury tea blender, Tealeaves, for a traditional “Nutcracker” afternoon tea.
As our server brought me a cup of the Nutcracker blend tea, I noticed it offered rich and creamy notes, with a smooth and nutty taste profile, and pleasing jolt of caffeine. Tealeaves only makes and sells this particular tea during the winter season.
Chef Benjamin serves chestnut and mushroom pie, finger turkey and smoked salmon sandwiches, a pumpkin quiche, shrimp tempura with cranberry sweet and sour sauce, Gruyere popovers and sweet treats for this elegant tea presented from 2 to 5 p.m. in the Lobby Lounge.
Chef Jean-Georges has curated a three to six course pre-fixe menu for Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. I promise they will be one of the most extravagant meals you’ve experienced in 2017. $$$ 9850 Wilshire Blvd. (800)774-1500.
This article was also featured in the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News on Dec. 21, 2017.