When I asked the illustrious Chef Pierre Gagnaire to articulate his sheer genius in the kitchen, he leaned over and with a gentle smile that came through his deep steel blue eyes, to say, “I try to create an emotion.”
Clearly, Gagnaire has such an ability. His food is as artistic as it is delicious. Edible art that is simple, and also ingeniously creative, his creations are capable of drawing out feelings of love, happiness, inspiration, delight, curiosity, ultimate pleasure.
Yet, Gagnaire is modest in every way. Though he has gained a cult of international devotees and owns highly-acclaimed restaurants worldwide and has garnered three Michelin stars for his eponymous restaurant in Paris, he finds himself short of expressing his brilliance. But he understands that his business is a process and that constant evolution has allowed him to stay at the forefront of the international culinary scene and remain relevant in an ever-changing world.
Gagnaire is the type of individual that is present at every front. By example, this is one of the reasons for his visit to his only U.S. restaurant, Twist by Pierre Gagnaire, located on the 23rd floor of Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas. Working alongside his kitchen team, Chef de Cuisine Frederic Don, and wine director, Master Sommelier Will Costello, he says that consistency is supremely important – one that takes patience, the ability to empower his team to envision his idea, then organically allow their magic to take place in the kitchen.
“He creates an environment of family which allows me to have his full support when I am creating new menu items,” says Twist’s, Chef de Cuisine Frederic Don. “Most of all, he trusts our team.”
Gagnaire has always encouraged chefs to break free of the rules that have governed the French canon for so long.
“Finally, one day I was ready to open my vision with all these chefs,” says Gagnaire, “A chef has the capacity to translate .. he or she is talented. I’m obsessed with the quality, and I try to give the process. Not the recipe, never the recipe – just the idea.”
The feeling of creativity, design and artistry delights the senses from the very moment you enter Twist. The majestic floor-to-ceiling windows heighten the energy in the dining room and a dramatic glass staircase leads up to a suspended wine loft. The restaurant also boasts a most striking lighting feature, which incorporates more than 300 spheres designed to look like bubbles floating across the ceiling. All this, is after being greeted by hundreds of silk purple butterflies that are seemingly an extension of the warm hospitality one receives as a guest.
Twist by Pierre Gagnaire continues to garner accolades for its groundbreaking menu of classic French cuisine, from vegetarian specialties, like Jardinière (Fava Beans, English Peas, Spring Onions Baby Carrots in Onion and Curry Juice English Pea Soup), to Muscovy Duck from Grimaud Farm (Thinly sliced with Cassis Bigarade Sauce Celeriac-Red Beetroot, Baby Carrots Turmeric Pommes Gaufrettes, Bacon Powder), Chef’s creations are a “twist” on the contemporary.
Gagnaire admits that his life in the culinary world was specified at an early age. His father was a chef, and while his siblings opted for other careers, cooking became Gagnaire’s destiny. After working under some of the finest chefs in the business, he struck out on his own in the town of St Étienne, where his illustrious career took flight.
Since then, he has overseen the development of a number of restaurants around the world, from London, to Paris, to Seoul and Dubai – each of which stay true to the defining quality and innovation synonymous with Chef Gagnaire.
But, working closely with his team is where he feels most at home. He explains how relationships are made through food, not only with his guests, but also with his team.
“I didn’t have a [career] choice, but I found that it was possible to tell a story. Food creates relationships with people, and people are the keys to my life.”