June 22, 2017 / Luxury Lifestyle

Courtesy of the Chef: Jean-Georges Klein

Jean-Georges Klein, head chef at Villa René Lalique, made the unusual journey from serving food to cooking it, winning coveted Michelin stars along the way

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At Villa René Lalique in Alsace, France, Jean-Georges Klein is cooking up an inventive, ever-evolving menu that sees customers returning again and again. Klein tells Luxury Defined how he develops his artful dishes, and how waiting tables helped him become a great chef.

Food and its preparation are almost part of Jean-Georges Klein’s DNA—both his grandmother and mother cooked at the family’s acclaimed L’Arnsbourg restaurant in Moselle, France. Photograph: Lionel Flusin. Banner image: Richard Haughton“I grew up in the kitchen and was influenced by the smells and tastes I discovered,” Klein says. “But I didn’t dream of becoming a chef. When I was young, I wanted to become an interior designer.”

Villa René Lalique, where Klein has been in charge since 2015, won two Michelin stars just three months after opening. Photograph: Reto Guntli“After studying hotel management in Strasbourg from 1967 to 1969 I became head waiter at the restaurant my mother, Lilly, owned. When she retired, I took her place in the kitchenat 40 years old.”

Klein describes his food as creative and colorful—full of contrasting looks, tastes, and textures. Photograph: Richard Haughton“Because I had no traditional training, I often go beyond limits. Every day, I try out unlikely combinations and contrasts. I take risks, and see if the results could be interesting for our guests.”

Villa René Lalique, and its Michelin-starred restaurant, is situated inside Northern Vosges Regional Nature Park, surrounded by nature but only an hour’s drive from Strasbourg. Photograph: Richard Haughton“I’d describe the cuisine we create at Villa René Lalique as creative and colorful, full of contrasting looks, tastes, and textures, inspired by nature and what surrounds me.”

The menu at Villa René Lalique heavily features local and seasonal products, and diners will also find Klein's signature dishes—like Potato & Truffle Emulsion. Photograph: Richard HaughtonI do combinations to surprise diners’ palates and create an emotion. There is no emotion without surprise.”

Among the tasting menus at Villa René Lalique is the Inspiration Menu, "created according to the inspiration of the moment." Photograph: Richard Haughton“Being a waiter helped me understand that the work in the kitchen is only one part of the experience diners will have. At Villa René Lalique, service is very professional and sophisticated, but not stiff. I want people to feel at home here.”

Chef Klein's dishes are known for being bold but minimalist, refined and pleasantly surprising. Photograph: Richard Haughton“The most important thing for me is that guests like my cuisine and leave the restaurant thinking, ‘I discovered something here. I have lived a culinary experience I had never lived before.’”

Gourmet Q&A: Anne-Sophie Pic 

Topics

  • Travel, Food & Drink

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