Celeb Interview: Guy Savoy

10 Mar 2013
By Ahlanlive.com

Doha has welcomed yet another celeb chef to the region – the French culinary legend Guy Savoy

Guy Savoy is no stranger to setting up restaurants in a foreign land – not only that but he has a habit of making a huge success of each of them too. After opening his first, Restaurant Guy Savoy, in Paris back in 1980 – which to date has earned him three Michelin stars – he branched out, initially opening an outlet at the Caesar’s Palace hotel in Las Vegas in 2006, which has subsequently earned two stars. In 2010, his Singapore restaurant opened and most recently, we happily welcomed Quisine by Guy Savoy to the Pearl-Qatar.  This is huge as it is Savoy’s first venture in the Middle East – we are truly honoured! Doha is certainly becoming an important culinary capital with Gordon Ramsay, Alain Ducasse and others all planting a flag within the city. But for Savoy, this is the start of something very special.

Huge congrats on opening Quisine by Guy Savoy. What can we look forward to that’s different from other restaurants here?
The best thing to do would be for you to come and try our restaurant [laughs], and then explain to me why you have this great need to come back. This is the exact same experience you would get at any of my other restaurants, in Paris, Las Vegas or Singapore. The menu includes all of my signature dishes, with a few local touches, the method of cooking is the same, and many of the staff even trained with me at my Paris restaurant first.

You mentioned your signature dishes and regional twists. What can we expect?
My signature dish is the artichoke and black truffle soup, featuring layered brioche with mushrooms and truffles. But each one of my dishes is designed for pleasure. For a regional twist you can try the confit of lamb and vegetables with halloumi cheese, zaatar, lamb juice and mint oil. Or another regional option could be the quail roll with spinach and hazelnut hummus, confit of quail legs with quinoa and mint tabbouleh and steamed ravioli with quail stuffing. This is what the real Guy Savoy experience is all about.

You have so many restaurants all across the world. Does that mean a lot of travel?
Yes, I have to travel at least two to three times a year to each of my restaurants abroad. But travelling to Doha is shorter, and so it will be easier to come here more often from France than it is to visit any of my other outlets. It will even be possible to go on the days that my Parisian restaurant is closed – Sunday and Monday. This is when night flights become a very practical option.

What do you think about Doha? Any parts that you really love?
Yes, I have explored Doha and I particularly love the souk and the desert. I also admire the different styles of architecture especially the Museum of Islamic Art which is marvellous. I am impressed by the number of building projects around the city which just shows how dynamic Doha is and how rapidly it’s growing. I haven’t had much time to experience any other restaurants in Doha because opening mine was pretty time-consuming to be honest!

Fellow French chef Alain Ducasse has also opened a restaurant in Doha recently and Gordon Ramsay has two fairly new outlets here. Are you concerned about the competition?
All of these restaurants opening in Doha just underlines the fact that this city is very interested in gastronomy and gastronomic projects. It is good news for Doha that these restaurants are here.

If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?
If not a chef then perhaps a vinomaker. But cooking is the art of instantaneously turning produce suffused with history into happiness. The work of the chef is instant whereas making wine is a long process. So I still have a preference for being a chef.

I’m throwing a dinner party this weekend, any suggestions for a simple recipe for me to wow my guests with?
I would recommend a single dish prepared in advance a few hours before the dinner. It will allow you to enjoy the dinner with your friends instead of being in the kitchen all the time. Each country has a simple dish of this type.

Is there one ingredient you simply couldn’t cook without?
Salt and pepper. They underline the flavours and emphasise the dish in a way nothing else can.

Everyone loves a gadget – what’s your kitchen fave?
The fourchette diapason to cook and the spoon to taste.

Food is such a big part of your life, what do you do to get away from it all?
I love huge open spaces such as the mountains and the countryside – and of course, the desert!

INFO: 7pm, Sunday to Friday; Quisine by Guy Savoy, The Pearl-Qatar, Parcel 4, Porto Arabia 7, 4002 7245, www.guysavoy.qa.