The stars were shining bright on Friday night as the young and brilliantly talented Chef Sven Wassmer transported his culinary skills, honed at his restaurant Memories in the Swiss Alps, to the Pavyllon Monte-Carlo, a restaurant by Yannick Alléno at the Hermitage Hotel.
It was a spectacular pairing and one of the highlights of this year’s Festival des Etoiles: Swiss Chef Sven Wassmer showcasing why he was the youngest chef in the world to win three Michelin stars, alongside another one of the world’s youngest chefs to have earned the coveted ranking.
“Yannick Alléno is a legend,” Chef Wassmer told Monaco Life on Friday night. “He wrote to me and asked if I wanted to cook with him, and for me it was an instant ‘yes’, of course I want to share a stove with this legend.”
For the multi-Michelin starred Chef Yannick Alléno, who counts among his accolades three stars at the Pavillon Ledoyen in Paris, this was an opportunity to see in action one of the brightest talents of today.
“I follow him, because I like to know what the new generation of chefs are doing. And I invited him because he is the youngest chef to have three stars,” Alléno told Monaco Life.
Together, the masters and their teams delivered a one-of-a-kind nine course extravaganza with wine pairings, manoeuvring the open kitchen of the Pavyllon Monte-Carlo like an army of white-hatted dancers.
It was another feather in the cap of the Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer, who’s unique “Four hands” dinners sees the pairing of signature dishes by some of Europe’s culinary masters with those of Monaco’s renowned starred chefs, in a testament to the resort’s commitment to perfecting “The Great Art of Living”.
A night inspired by nature and the classics
Chef Wassmer describes his food as “stripped back and minimalist”. By using locally sourced produce, often foraged from the forests and mountains, together with the finest international ingredients, the 36-year-old chef aims to evoke childhood memories of discovery, the great outdoors and the sense of wonder. It is also designed to make new connections and create new memories. “The result,” he says, “is a treasure trove of happy moments, savoured in one evening and etched in the memory forever.”
That was certainly the case on Friday night, as Chef Yannick Alléno and Chef Sven Wassmer conceived a menu that took guests from the familiar comforts of the Mediterranean to the vibrant and earthly flavours of the Swiss Alps.
Among the highlights were Alléno’s deliciously sweet gambero tartare from Genoa encased in velvety layers of avocado, and agnolotti del pin with sage and lashings of white alba truffle, interchanged with Chef Wassmer’s remarkably light omble chevalier (arctic char) with a forest fir cream, the classically Swiss and perfectly executed pasta dish of knöpfli – again finished with lashings of luxurious white alba truffle, and melt-in-your-mouth tender strips of beef with a meaty jus.
Wassmer finished his culinary journey through the Alpine forest with a wood sorrel sorbet and candied umbrella pine, before Alléno served up his famously beautiful plombiére de poire.
“We are the same, Yannick and I”
Incredible wine pairings perfected an evening that celebrated the brilliance of two chefs who are daring enough to combine traditional techniques with innovative methods that truly expose the flavour of their precious ingredients.
“I am classically trained in French cuisine, and his (Alléno’s) idea of ‘Extraction’ sauces, going back deep into the classics but in a new way, is how I think and feel too,” said Chef Wassmer. “I combine classic cooking with a very modern alpine perspective, with our heritage that we have in Switzerland, and I think this produces a unique cuisine that brings an amazing concentration of flavour on the plate. We are the same Yannick and I. Less is more.”
A winning formula by SBM
Beyond the magnificence on the plates, the success in these Festival des Etoiles evenings is the access they afford to the chefs themselves; the way they playfully share stories and secrets to an adoring crowd; the opportunity to truly see these masters in action.
It is a food festival that can be found nowhere else in the world, and it is reserved for a privileged clientele in Monaco who truly appreciate the uniqueness of the pairings.
The Festival des Etoiles concludes in exemplary style on Saturday 11th November with a grand gala that brings together Monaco’s participating starred chefs: Alain Ducasse, in collaboration with Emmanuel Pilon, Marcel Ravin, Dominique Lory and Yannick Alléno. They will cook in front of guests at the emblematic Salle Empire at the Hôtel de Paris. Each chef will once again present their signature dishes, sending guests on a culinary journey through the star-studded Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer galaxy.
Photos by Monaco Life.