Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten Visits Vancouver

Chef Jean-Georges

He’s responsible for more acclaimed restaurants worldwide than I can count on my hands and toes. More importantly, he’s the name, chef, and visionary behind one of my favorite eateries: Market by Jean-Georges.

The French chef is arriving in Vancouver tonight to introduce his new menu items to the local food community. Click here for a peek. Bartender Jay Jones says the Scallop Sashimi with warm crispy rice and chipotle emulsion is especially delicious.

We offered you the chance to ask JG a question. Thanks for all of your great submissions! Here are the answers to your questions:

Q from @hauteonmyheels: What’s your favorite fast healthy vegetarian entree to whip up after work?

JG: A quick pasta and a little olive oil. I always try to throw whatever is left in the fridge. My favourites are arugula, some tomato, some parmesan. It’s always satisfying.

Q from Angela Moore: How do you multi-task so much and still remain balanced?

JG: It’s all about delegation and communication…the way we communicate with iPhones and videos. You can almost be at home while directing the kitchen. The most important thing is surrounding yourself with great people. Anytime you open a restaurant it’s about the team. They have to do the legwork day in day out. I think I’m good at hiring the right talent, and when you surround yourself with the right talent, things flow smoothly. After that, you just have to focus on the new flavours and new dishes.

Q from Shameer P.: What’s the best and worst thing you ever ate?

JG: The worst was a pharmacy restaurant in Singapore. You go see a Doctor before you enter the restaurant and he checks your organs, your tongue, your eyes, and then prescribes the menu for you. My diet was: turtle jelly, fried ants, scorpion pancakes and snake pancakes. It was horrific. I felt like it was a zoo food restaurant. Anything in a zoo, I do not cook.

The best was a simple ginger fried rice in Thailand back in 1980 when I first stepped foot in Asia. On the way from the airport I stopped four times before I reached the hotel…so many good things, but ginger fried rice is still my favourite. It was everything Thailand was all about: scallions, ginger, fried rice, and a fried egg on top.

Q from @evianwordflu: How do you maintain a respect for convention without hindering your innovative drive? Is a compromise necessary?

JG: There is no compromise necessary. Traditions are traditions, but I cook cuisine of the world. I respect the traditions of the cultures I cook with, but you need a traditional base to be innovative. They go hand in hand. There is no innovation without tradition.

Q from @604pulse: Have you ever been inspired by local Vancouver ingredients? Have you ever taken those inspired dishes abroad to other restaurants?

JG: We have created many dishes since we’ve been here from ingredients that we discovered here. I wish we could find Black Cod, Spotted Prawns, and all the local things that you have here in New York. But we have been very inspired by Vancouver and by other restaurants here.

Q from @orgasmicchef: I wonder if you ever want to grab his wife, a cold chicken leg and sit on the beach instead of working?

JG: Absolutely *laughs*. I look to do things in the spur of the moment and step away. You have to step away from time to time. It’s a hard business.

Q from @sunnylenarduzzi: Do you ever get nervous about people tasting your food anymore?

JG: You always get nervous, even after 38 years of experience. I would never serve a dish if I didn’t finish it myself. Many chefs have that belief, but they don’t eat their own food. I eat my own food. It’s the only way you can see if something is missing, and learn how to fix it. But yes, I still get nervous about presenting new dishes. The beautiful thing about the restaurant business is that whatever is broken at lunch can be fixed by dinner time.

Q from @sunnylenarduzzi: Is there anyone in particular who makes you nervous?

JG: Any food critic…anyone in New York. But today you have to be nervous about anyone eating in your restaurant. Regular people use Twitter and everyone is connected. Critics are very important, but regular customers are just as important. The newspaper may review once, but that’s it. Look online and the person that was there for lunch yesterday already has a review. I think it’s important to value everyone that comes in. In the old days, if you had a reputation, you could live on it. A restaurant can no longer do that.

Q from @sunnylenarduzzi: What’s your favourite meal to make yourself?

JG: Because at the restaurant I plate everything, I never plate at home. What I do for myself, my wife, and my family is make one composition meals. I try to cook a lot in a pressure cooker…you know stew, potatoes…you put it in there, close it up, then everyone digs in.

Q from @sunnylenarduzzi: If you could live off of three ingredients for the rest of your life, what would they be?

JG: I would be miserable *laughs*. If I was stuck on an island…coconut milk, I love it, it’s nutritional, it hydrates you perfectly. I would eat fish, so would need some spices: salt. I wouldn’t be able to live without ginger, and probably rice. I’d be set.

Q from @meenamann: What’s your most memorable moment in the kitchen?

JG: When I received my three Michelin star six years ago. Tthere were many moments…four star New York Times, when I opened my first restaurant, but the three Michelin star was emotional for me because when I was in France, I began working in three Michelin star restaurants for my first seven years. To get three Michelin stars off the bat in New York was ‘wow’…I’m back in the game.

Q from @ICCAshli Why Vancouver? Does our city give you satisfaction?

JG: The first time I came to Vancouver was on the way through to Hong Kong, where we opened a restaurant in 1997. Over the years, we came to Vancouver 24 times. I was always fascinated by the city and it was always very present in my mind. When Shangri-La approached me to do the project it was the right time to come. I was fascinated by the local ingredients, and the customers. Everyone is a foodie here. I love it.

Huge thanks to the wonderful Jean-Georges for answering all these questions! He was truly a joy to meet and interview.

Interested in the two Canucks play-off tickets Market’s giving away? Visit their Facebook page here for details.

Ciao for now.

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