One of the youngest chefs to get two Michelin stars and a TV personality on Top Chef, Jean-François Piège teamed up with the prestigious cognac house. It was a collaboration that took him around the world to work with two other Michelin-approved establishments in Singapore.
On 6 January, the global #TeamUpForExcellence campaign by cognac house Rémy Martin brought renowned chef Jean-François Piège back to our shores for an exclusive four-hands dinner. Only in the country for two nights on a whirlwind tour of Asia, the two Michelin-starred chef worked with chef Kirk Westaway from one Michelin-starred Jaan to showcase the varied expressions of cognac.
A small group of invited guests were treated to four-courses orchestrated to highlight the versatility of the cognac. From Piège were two dishes, born from a series of experiments with the cognac house’s Cellar Master, Baptise Loiseau.
He divulged that between the main of Lobster on Lemon Leaves & Pasta and the dessert of Blanc-a-manger, the former was the trickier one to pair. Cognac’s typically more robust notes make the drink commonly paired with heavier flavour profiles such as parmesan or ham, but for the experiments, Loiseau wanted to him to start with what was less obvious. It all worked out eventually with Piège’s hand-twisted organic pasta in a citrus sauce that complimented the accompanying Rémy Martin XO.
Also paired with Rémy Martin XO was the Blanc-a-manger, dubbed “floating island”. A simple grandma’s recipe comprising eggs, milk and vanilla, the fluffy meringue releases a vanilla custard when cut into. Creating the perfect Blanc-a-manger with the ingredients available here and the tropical climate took some trial-and-error for Piège and his team. To serve it exactly as it is in The Grand Restaurant, he brought the same blue Dior plates to Singapore.
Not to be outdone, Westaway’s courses of an Irish oyster on a bed of pureed artichoke and caviar was paired with frozen Rémy Martin VSOP. Almost syrup-like from the cold, the cognac’s muted notes ensured it didn’t take away from the delicate salinity and natural sweetness in the dish. In contrast, his next offering of baked pigeon with roasted onions and caramelised apple complimented the lighter Rémy Martin Club on the rocks it was paired with.
The next day, Piège headed to Tippling Club to showcase how the cognac could be paired as cocktails alongside head bartender Andrew Loudon and chef Ayo Adeyemi. To start was Piège’s canapes of grilled foie gras with passionfruit and shavings of cocoa beans served with Rouillac, a Rémy Martin XO cocktail. He decided on using cocoa beans when his initial idea of using coffee beans was scrapped as it turned out too bitter. To follow was a Wild Calamari Carbonara together with Fine Champagne, a cocktail mixed with Rémy Martin VSOP.
Both culinary experiences offered different ways to appreciate cognac, a spirit only produced in the Charente and Charente-Maritime regions. Though seen as a classic drink, Piège attests to more Parisian mixologists adding cognac to their creations; cognac cocktails can be found at two of his restaurants. He uses it in cooking as well and believes it won’t be long before that catches on.
Get in on the action: Sample the pairing of Grilled Foie Gras by chef Jean-François Piège and The New Decade Cocktail by Tippling Club’s head bartender, Andrew Loudon, at Tippling Club from 27 January to 27 February for S$40.