Spring / Summer 2011

Savoir fare

Masters of French Cuisine Share Seasonal Secrets

In spring and summer, a young man or woman’s fancy doesn’t always turn to thoughts of love. At least not romantic love—especially if one is a foodie whose taste buds have been lying dormant, waiting to reemerge in the epicurean light. To aid in that re-awakening: Guy Savoy and François Payard, respectively of Caesars Palace establishments Restaurant Guy Savoy and Payard Pâtisserie & Bistro. They employ the transitory produce of the growing months to keep their guests’ palates piqued and to add verve to events ranging from Vegas Uncork’d in May to Bastille Day in July.

Photo courtesy of Caesars
Entertainment Corp.

Restaurant Guy Savoy
Chef Guy Savoy — Caesars Palace

Guy Savoy likes to make seasonal transitions with tomatoes. “[It is] my favorite spring/summer ingredient,” he says, “because it is a simple product with numerous varieties that can be prepared very differently—for example, gelée, tartare, crisp, raw or cooked.”

Indeed, Savoy often combines several preparations of one ingredient on a plate, such as with his Peas All Around, which features a jellied juice of the young pea, a pea purée and par-cooked peas, all topped by a soft-boiled egg and edible flowers. To feature tomatoes in a similar manner, he says, “I would start with the tomato in its true form and then create attractive dishes by using shapes, colors, textures and temperatures.”

Photo courtesy of Caesars
Entertainment Corp.

Payard Pâtisserie & Bistro
Chef François Payard — Caesars Palace

For François Payard, the approach of warm weather is equivalent to the harvesting of stone fruits—cherries, peaches and apricots—in addition to berries and rhubarb. “When the rhubarb arrives, it means that spring has arrived,” he explains. “It is fun to work with all of these fruits because they are so versatile. [Plus] the fruits create a balance. Peaches and apricots can be used in the kitchen for foie gras—the acidity cuts the fat—and in the pastry kitchen for desserts. It is the same for rhubarb. It can be used with duck in the kitchen and in pastries.”

Payard also enjoys how stone fruits, in particular, can raise the level of fish, poultry, veal and pork dishes, any of which may be monotone in color and flavor. “If I am using apricots,” he says, “I can dress it up by making a chutney for [the protein], and if I have less time I can sear them in the pan. The chutney is more complicated and takes more time. The seared apricot is rustic and simpler to make.”

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