Citrus Etoile and Pur'Grill Buzz

By Margaret Kemp

If you love Gilles Epié's Velouté de Foie Gras and hot oysters, marinated saumon d'Ecosse like herring, Soupe d'Asperges Verte, Beignets de Foie Gras, Souffle Chaud à la Clementine, you're going to love his virtual recipe book and hip video on www.cuisineonline.tv He's there in the kitchen with you, making the dishes. Also the Gros Macaron, tiramisu and the epic Epié Souffle Chaud. He can't come chez vous to do the dishes, Mrs E – Elizabeth - say's absolutely no, but doesn't mind you spending quality on-line time with her husband, if you really must!

Citrus Etoile is always buzzing. Sometimes it seems as if people pop in to see what “Lizzie’s” wearing, or view the art exhibits punctuating the walls. But no, one taste of Gros Champigon et Pointe d'Asperges Verts, Sabayon Citronné (see photo) and you know why you should book well ahead.

The Champignon dish is sensational, a treat for the eye and palate, forms part of the Spring/Summer Collection. Begin with this, continue with signature Foie de Veau Rosé lightly steamed (no fat chez Gilles) add Tartare of Tofu, a few asparagus and a sprinkling of raw spinach leaves. Healthy eating. Prefer fish? Daurade Royale is grilled, paired with confit of onions, tomatoes and black olives. Nice with a glass of Provence white. Last week Gilles was doing Lime Souffle with lime sorbet to finish. Perfecto!

Alert readers will know that Epie trained with Alain Senderens, travelled the world, spent about 10 years in California, some at the legendary L'Orangerie, where he cooked for the likes of Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Gere, Princess Diana.

Keeping to the Citrus theme he returned to Paris, three years ago, with a beautiful wife and “quatre kids” all of whom, Gilles says, need to learn the French way of life. So they launched Citrus Etoile and, “frankly it was tough at first”, he admits. But now, great press and word of mouth fill the bright airy space daily. They've got plans to expand have the Epiés, speedy Gilles does not sit still for a minute. “I love ze life wiz Lizzie by my side”, he grins.

Jean-Francois Rouquette is a happy chef. Awarded a * Michelin star in the 2008 Guide for his hip and original cooking at Pur' Grill, Le Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome, the Ed Tuttle designed hotel on rue de la Paix.

It was a good bet that Rouquette would take to the stoves. “My parents had a brasserie near Enghien, where they cooked traditional dishes. After school I would rush there to help make (and eat!) the chocolate mousse and also the saucisses/aligot, tripes. By the time I was 14 I was hooked!”, he confesses.

Aged 18, Rouquette began as commis at Le Petit Riche, the lad did well, was soon promoted. “But I took a step down, which I have never regretted, to go to The Crillon. Follow that with time spend in Cannes, at The Martinez with Christian Willer, Taillevent, and then a return to The Crillon at the request of Christian Constant. “It was through chef Constant that I met Micheline Coat, owner of La Cantine des Gourmets, the left-bank head office/canteen for all the politicians and celebrities at the time”.

Under the direction of Micheline Coat, Rouquette won a Michelin star, then came the big opportunity to take over the kitchens at the, about to open, Park-Hyatt Vendome. “When Micheline Coat heard of the offer she more or less pushed me out of the door”, recalls Rouquette, a delightful man who has a wonderful way with people and products. “I have to say I learned to delegate from chef Constant and how to please clients from Mme Coat”, he admits.

Arriving at the Park-Hyatt, Rouquette needed all his skills to form a team and find the identity of his cuisine, at present his fragrant flower and herb-based menu is packing them in. He echoes Epié saying the beginning was difficult. “I'm a team person, think of rugby when you think kitchens”, he explains. “You need to pass the ball, each team member must touch it to be at the centre of the game, non?”

Address Book:

Citrus Etoile,

6 rue Arsene Houssaye, 8th (Metro: Charles de Gaulle Etoile)

T: 01 42 89 15 51

Menu Citrus Etoile – 39€

Tasting Menu – 90€ + A La Carte

Valet Parking – Shut Sat-Sun

www.gillesepie.fr

Restaurant Pur ‘Gril,

Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome,

5 rue de la Paix, 3rd (Metro : Opera)

Power of Flower Dinner 135€

A La Carte about 130€ + wine

Chef’s Table dinner for 4-8 300€ pp

Including wines and champagne.

Open for dinner 7/7

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