Meet Michelin-starred Master Chef Pierre Gagnaire
With three Michelin stars to his name, a host of top-class restaurants around the globe and a career that spans 40 years, Pierre Gagnaire is a respected master chef. Made famous by his pioneering culinary style, which sees an extraordinary interplay between ingredients, Gagnaire has brought his unique technique to Reflets Par Pierre Gagnaire in Dubai – considered one of the city’s finest restaurants since opening at InterContinental Dubai Festival City in 2008.
“When I first came here and they explained what they wanted to do with the restaurant I was interested, even though Dubai was a complicated option at the time when it came to sourcing ingredients. I have to say that after a few years I am very happy, Dubai is now a major city,” says the master chef.
Everything at the French restaurant exudes luxury, from the plush interiors with claret furnishings and glittering chandeliers, to the stunning menu which offers nothing short of a culinary masterclass.
Crediting his team with much of Reflets’ success, Gagnaire says: “I am lucky because we have a very, very good team of people, like head chef Francois Xavier who is a fantastic talent. That is important because the operation is very small. It’s like a family, I spend time with them and pass on all I can but in the end, they must be themselves. It’s vital that they take the time to grow and learn – not just from me, but by themselves too
“I try to keep a link with them throughout the year, they know if they call me, I am there. When I am in the city, I try to spend time with them, to eat with them and to understand what they want. I basically try to maintain a good connection. It’s so much more than just passing on technique.”
Gagnaire’s unique cooking philosophy has garnered him international acclaim and many imitators, although he is quick to play down the significance of his stand-out style.
“My approach is often called fusion cooking, but it’s not, it’s more the way I see the job. It’s about the pleasure I get from combining ingredients and I feel free to create. I try to concentrate and keep the energy and pleasure of cooking alive, my approach is only that really. I then try to combine my talent with the talent of my chefs. I also try to use the support of my chefs to grow, they have their own talent, why forget that?”
Gagnaire has successful restaurants in the UK, France, Dubai, Hong Kong, Japan, and the United States, to name a few. At each, guests can expect a distinct experience, and one which is true to the chef’s high standards. “We have four restaurants in France – two in Paris, one in the south and one in the mountains. Each develops its own story and has its own personality. I’m lucky because with each restaurant, I feel like it becomes a part of me.
“From the very beginning, in Dubai, we remained true to the fine-dining experience. You see new concepts here all the time but we don’t want to change, we want to stay the same so that people can understand and appreciate Reflets.
“When guests come to the restaurant, let’s say it’s different. It’s a small place where the relationship with the guest is very personal. We pay attention to the details, we want to keep our style and to become a real reference in the city, I think that is important.”
With a career spanning four decades, Gagnaire has a wealth of experience to draw on as he perfects the experience guests can expect at Reflets.
He says: “It wasn’t actually my choice to become a chef, my father had a restaurant and I started working there at 17. It wasn’t until I started out on my own that I really found my love for cooking.
“From there, I worked hard, concentrated and that led me on an incredible journey. When you have a project, you have to be focused on it at all times. Sure you might lose out on your social life, but I’m fine with that, I know that my life is in the kitchen.”
It is this passion for cooking and a commitment to hard work that ensures Reflets’ continued success in Dubai, despite a crowded culinary landscape.
The master chef adds: “We hope we can continue to stand out on the dining scene by being ourselves, we are not part of a trend, we are focused on the way we work. Many chefs come and eat in our restaurant, for me that is a sign that people truly appreciate what we do.”