There is something really special about the love of food and cooking. Most of our celebrations always end up having food, family and friends as the central element. So when you get two passionate cooks like Sang-Hoon Degeimbre of L’air du temps and Bo Bech of Restaurant Geist cooking together in a four-hands dinner you end up realising that when it comes to food, we all speak the same language.
There is something very special about a four hands dinner. It brings together cooks who may not know each other very well but it helps to cement a friendship and showcase their different cooking styles.
There are clearly many differences between the two chefs. Bo is a bubbly personality, San is more calm. In a way it is like comparing chalk and cheese. But put them together in a kitchen and they created a magical menu at the first four hands dinner for 2015 at L’air du temps.
The story of the two chefs also has many similarities. Unlike most chefs, both San and Bo did not start their careers cooking. They were doing other things before they found their calling in the kitchen. While Bo went to train in London and Paris, San took a different route, learning by experience in his own restaurant.
While Bo has an obsession with purity of flavours often combining just two to three elements in a dish, San has a way of combining the most modern techniques with flavour combinations, which, whether you like it or not, stop and make you reflect. Many times you are left wondering why you had never tried that flavour combination before or why you had not thought of it.
San is known for his oysters with kiwi dish though Bo had never heard about it before the eve of the four-hands dinner last week. I can still recall the explosion of flavours the first time I tried the dish at Chef’s Revolution in Zwolle last year. Bo described it as mind-blowing and I would have to agree with him.
What followed was a unique concoction made by Bo. It was olives with a liquorice powder which were smoked with cinnamon sticks. There was a sense of theatre as the olives where brought to table and cinnamon smoke was lifted into the air.
San then prepared another incredible combination which you might think could never work but in fact does. An egg yolk was served together with passion fruit and broccoli. It looks simple but its the first time I’ve seen such a combination.
It was again San’s turn to prepare a dish. This was a ‘pizza’ of fermented carrots, a carpaccio of scallops with a mozzarella cream and a herb sauce. The flavours this time were more subtle but the combination really worked.
Bo Bech continued with a preparation using San’s lacto-fermented carrots which gave this simple looking dish a great depth of flavour. A very thinly sliced beef carpaccio was served with carrots, seasoned with piment d’esplette and a very tiny hint of banana liquour. All four at the table agreed that we could get a hint of the banana but only because we were told.
What followed next was probably the most simple dish. But this really kicked a punch. The mashed potatoes were slightly under seasoned but mixed with the caviar you got an explosion of flavour. The dish proved to be stunning.
San followed with a dish which was not only pleasing to the eye but also exceptionally fresh. A barely cooked languoustine was served with small shrimps (crevettes) and a broth of crevettes. It was served with instant noodles.
Bo then served cauliflower with truffles. The truffle was mixed with mushrooms which had been dehydrated overnight in the oven to make a very strong jus. The dish showcased the cauliflower in its simplicity with the strong flavours of the white sauce and the truffles.
The main course was a joint ‘four-hands’ creation. San cooked the duck on the barbeque. It was served with smoked grapefruit prepared by Bo and a maple syrup and coffee sauce with a black garlic puree.
Before the proper coffee with petit fours, San served a ‘coffee of jerusalem artichokes’ with a beautiful tuile.
Dinner over, the kitchen at L’air du temps welcomed the guests for an explanation of the dinner prepared by Bo and San. It was a night to remember for all those present and one that cemented a friendship between San and Bo.