One-on-One with Chef Pierre Gagnaire
XPEDITION Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Josh M. Yugen had an intimate conversation with one of the world’s top chefs during his latest visit in Dubai at the comfort of his self-named restaurant Pierre at Intercontinental Dubai Festival City talking about life, career, love for Dubai and of course, food! Indulge….
Josh: So, I’m Josh from Xpedition Middle East Magazine. I actually have featured your restaurant in Hong Kong, Mandarin Oriental in 2007 for Prestige magazine in Dubai where I was working before. This is our magazine, XPEDITION Middle East magazine. I co-owned it with a local Emirati and I shot this [Summer 2019 cover] in New York. She’s the reigning Miss Universe Catriona Gray.
Pierre: Oh, It’s you?
Josh: Yeah, that was our shoot in New York. Okay, I am going to ask you the talking point that your PR pushed. But before that, I want to ask questions about travelling because as you know, our magazine is all about luxury travel & lifestyle. So, chef, my question is, what is your most reminisced childhood travel experience?
Pierre: Uhmm, many experiences! Twenty years ago, I prepared events for entrepreneurs. In Venice for 1,200 people. It was for the inauguration of the Palazzo Grassi, the museum. It was fantastic and the quality of the guest, the quality of the atmosphere, the city, in fact it was one of my best memories in my career.
We have so many memories you know, because we work for Louis Vuitton too, we had fantastic events. Two weeks ago I organized a dinner for weddings for 80 persons in Versaille, it was very small. It was fantastic! We had the chance in our work to travel and to live in incredible situations. The events, it’s always special and elegant. So in our restaurant in London, in Moscow, in Hong Kong, in Tokyo everywhere.
Josh: So Chef, name top 3 destinations that you have travelled.
Pierre: No, no top 3 because I love each city.
Josh: Okay, so can you give me 3 memorable cities that you have travelled to?
Pierre: It’s Fantastic! Dubai, Shanghai it’s the same level of vibes because it's totally new. Here it’s totally new, in Shanghai, we have this past but the city is incredible. When I first time I came here, It was totally empty, nothing, no buildings.
Josh: Yeah, now the skyscrapers are rising. We have the tallest tower, we have the largest mall in the world. We have the largest man-made island...
Josh: So Chef can you name the top three destinations that you want to visit next year? Just for travelling, not for work.
Pierre: It’s simple for me to travel but because I work a lot, the small time that I have I chose to stay in Paris, in my own restaurant in Piero. If you can see my schedule, I am going to fly to London, after I’ll go to France, I’ll go to Courchevel, to Miami. I travel a lot for my work, but when I have time, it’s for my creative work because I am a Chef, I’m not in places to take photos. I need to spend time with myself to continue to work, to imagine a new dish, to have everything figured. You understand? You’re on the top of your life but you must have the capacity to move forward because at the end it’s the work. For me it’s the point that I want to keep, as a Chef I need to spend time in my Kitchen.
Josh: So Chef, speaking of creating, people know you for creating emotions. What’s your emotion right now?
Pierre: Emotion, the main emotion is in meeting people. Because as you know, the world is complicated and in travelling you meet a lot of people. Sometimes we have to forget the chaos of the world, the demands of technology so we can finally get along and spend time with the people around us physically. You see my aim is to meet people and through my work I can meet so many different people, and it’s fantastic. Through my work, I’ll try to create tenderness, peace and emotion. And I think this is what the world needs today.
Josh: That’s very inspiring. So Chef, there’s so many young chefs who look up to you as their icon. What is the greatest lesson that you can impart to them and you can actually teach them?
Pierre: To take time, take time to be wrong. Take time to meet people. Take time to know what they want. It’s important to know exactly your capacity and what you want to do. For me, it’s my vision everyday to try to do what makes me happy, to be happy. When you’re comfortable with yourself it's easy to share emotion with everybody.
Josh: Chef, let us talk about your Pierre’s Bistro & Bar. What’s the DNA of your restaurant?
Pierre: The DNA is the relationship that we have with Omar AlFuttaim, that is very important because we have a very good relationship with this gentleman. With the Intercontinental, because we have three restaurants with Intercontinental. One in Tokyo, the other in Vietnam. We are comfortable because we have similarities, the quality, sincerity, honesty and the teamwork. It's just creating a nice quiet place with quality and the price is not too expensive. It’s a very good place to share with friends and families.
Josh: Chef, you are on the top of all the chef’s in the world, but I know that even on the Top you actually welcome changes. And I know that there is transitioning from fine dining to a bucket friendly upscale bistro. Can you tell me more about it?
Pierre: In our age today, in the different faces of the world, and there are different levels. For example in Tokyo and recently in my own restaurant in Paris, there is a chance to be different and the ways are different from the rest. I can experiment. Easy way to offer my knowledge. You see, there is a fantastic cuisine in India, there’s this best fish you can only find in Japan, and Paris is the home of our fresh pasta. You know there are so many things to find in each country and i can experiment with that, i can create something that would suit the taste and culture of every country, and that is a big chance for me. Also, I'm lucky because of my great team. I think it’s the key to our success.
Josh: Speaking of your hardworking team Chef, what’s your inspiration behind your amazing dishes?
Pierre: See, It’s impossible to explain. The explanation is your way to lead, it’s a way to share your knowledge with your team. Also, I get a chance to have a family, I'm not alone but I live alone so I can concentrate on my work. That’s very important, you see I travel alone because I need to concentrate on my work.
Josh: Chef, Have you seen the movie Eat, Pray, Love?
Josh: It’s a movie of Julia Roberts, about the Place for eating, there’s a place for Praying and there’s a place to Love. If you were to choose in different cities, where would you eat? Where would you Pray? And where would you love?
Pierre: [Answer on where he would EAT] Somewhere in France, because that is my country. It’s a small country but this country is fantastic! We have the sea, we have the mountains, we have the countryside.
Josh: Okay, so your country to eat is France. Where would you pray?
Pierre: In Asia!
Josh: So probably in Dubai?
Pierre: Why not? Personally because it’s quiet. It’s a good place to pray.
Josh: So where would you love? I know that so many people love you but where would you feel love for yourself?
Pierre: Perhaps in the mountains. If there are chances I would go to the Alps, I would like to go to Himalaya or go to Nepal.
Josh: Last question Chef, are you managing your instagram because you have a beautiful instagram.
Pierre: No, no people do it for me.