Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten recently dished with the Observer, serving up info on his restaurant empire, his unique cooking style and future plans.
Vongeritchten currently owns a portfolio of 30 successful eateries, 11 of which are in New York. And while he is known for his French cooking style, he says what sets him apart is adding local touches in each location.
In his Bahamian outpost, Dune, he offers fish caught fresh nearby. Likewise he sources fish from a topnotch market for his JG Tokyo in Japan. In his Los Cabos location, One & Only, vegetables are sourced from a local farm.
Another key ingredient, he says, is his desire to bring luxury to the masses in an approachable way. “Truffle is a luxury today, because it’s more rare,” he said. “In the old days, in Périgord or Provence, when people would find truffle, the peasants would slice up some bread, put some butter, slice some truffle, put some salt on it. It was a peasant dish. It became a luxury dish because of the rarity. Caviar is another one. We put caviar with potato!”
He hungers for his next project to be on an even bigger scale. “I’d love to do a hotel one day.” Noting costs could be prohibitive in doing so in a major city like New York City, he finds the idea of his first hotel being a bit farther afield in “somewhere on the beach or next to a rice field” quite appetizing.
“When you have a hotel, people stay overnight for two or three days and you can really take care of them, and really push it to another level.”