An Interview with Celeb Four-Star Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten
Lots of Flavor Bang for Little Bucks
-Francine Segan, food+home editor
It’s easy to get a four-star meal in NYC if you’re willing to spend big bucks, but some of the very finest restaurants often have an annex near the main dining room with much less expensive, but just as impressive fare.
One of the very best bargains in fine dining right now is the four-course dinner at Nougatine, for only $35! Celeb chef Jean-George Vongerichten created Nougatine as a more informal dining option that sits alongside his famous signature restaurant – Jean-Georges – both that overlook New York’s lovely Central Park.
For $35 you get four fab courses, which even includes an amuse-bouche – a yummy gourmet freebie, which literally means “amuse your mouth” in French.
Jean-Georges fuses French food with Asian, which results in an interesting mix of light, yet rich dishes. The options on the tasting menu changes regularly, but the night I was there it included these four courses:
– Spring beet salad with yogurt, aged balsamic and lemon oil;
– Salmon with julienne vegetables and basil vinaigrette served on potato puree;
– Roasted Chicken served on white bean puree with broccoli rabe and lemon truffle vinaigrette;
– Warm Valrhona chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream.
If that’s too much of a good thing, no worries. You can order from the regular menu, which includes the world’s best cheeseburger topped with crispy onions and homemade Russian dressing, served with a slew of unbelievably addictive fries all for just $18.
If you’re anywhere near NYC, or planning a trip here this summer, you’ve got to try this hip, hot place with fab service and unforgettable food.
I walked away from the meal not only full and oh, so happy, but with a short interview with Jean-Georges.
FS: What is your inspiration for Nougatine?
J-G V: When I was an apprentice in France, the first thing I learned from my mentor, Paul Haeberlin, was to work with the seasons. At Nougatine, I try to do something fresh, casual, and intensely flavorful. My inspiration for the menu there comes from the produce and the farmers and fishermen I work with.
FS: What’s next for you?
J-G V: Right now, I am working with my team to open a new restaurant in Washington D.C. I’m very excited about this project – the location, the chef, the local produce, everything about it is great. We plan to open this summer.
FS: What are your favorite gourmet destinations?
J-G V: Tokyo has some really amazing restaurants, including one of my favorites, Sushi Mizutani. South East Asia has the most amazing markets. I love going to Bangkok, Singapore or Shanghai. I go straight to the market to see what new ingredients I will discover.
FS: What is your one piece of advice for home cooks?
J-G V: Keep it simple, but don’t forget to add a little spice.
FS: Your favorite ingredient?
J-G V: Chilies. I discovered them when I was working in Bangkok, and now I have to put them in almost everything I cook. I just love that spicy kick.