For 33 days out of the year, French chef Pierre Gagnaire visits his only U.S. restaurant to unveil a new menu for the season. Since last Friday, Gagnaire has been behind the stoves at Twist by Pierre Gagnaire tucked away on the 23rd floor of Mandarin Oriental to give diners a chance to taste the lavish fusion dishes that he made so famous. He sat down with Eater Vegas and his chef de cuisine Pascal Sanchez, who sometimes helped Gagnaire translate, in the private dining room at Twist. Gagnaire shares some of the inspirations behind Twist and how he became one of the most famous chefs in the world.
Why open a restaurant in Las Vegas as your first in the United States?
I don’t decide. I’ve been working with Mandarin Oriental for five or six years now and they seemed happy with me. They asked me if I wanted to come to work here and I said yes immediately. I came a long, long time ago to the city. I love the idea of the city. It’s not the best place to create something very high level. It’s a mixture of show, of fun. I felt it would be a very good opportunity for me to be in the U.S. and also to offer a very little idea of my food, of my work.
Why Twist? Twist because it’s a twist between the Las Vegas mentality and my philosophy. It’s not in a casino. It’s not too big, it’s not too small. It’s not fine dining. It’s not a cafe. I think it’s the perfect place to work. It’s the perfect place to bring what’s next because it’s not too casual. It’s in between for someone who wants to be pleased or be surprised.
I didn’t come over here to show how to become the best. That was not the case at all. It was just showing that we can do a high level quality for the guests.
Where do you find your inspirations?
The only thing that I can say I’m always thinking about that. I concentrate on my job and I’m very attentive to my emotions. It’s day after day discussion with my chefs, with myself. Sometimes it’s easy. For example. When I think Las Vegas, it’s not the same story. It’s not the same expectation from the guest. Here it must be a little bit crazy but simple, not too small, not too big, but tasty and filling.
What do you do when you’re not in the kitchen?
Nothing special. I read. This morning I swam. I read the paper. I spend much time with myself. I love music but I don’t listen to much. I like movies, but for me it’s impossible to see a movie at the theater. You have to get a ticket. You have to be seated. It’s too long for me. I don’t have time.
What’s the one piece of kitchen equipment you can’t live without other than your knives?
Besides your knives?
The fire. Without the fire you cannot cook. I know it’s not true for all chefs. The fire is the way to between the natural and the spirit. When you cook you work the produce into something that can be eaten. You can feel the sensitivity of the chef.
What’s your favorite breakfast?
It depends. The only thing I do not eat too much because I eat late evening. Usually I eat after the service. I know it’s not good but for me it’s the relaxing moment of the day.
In the morning, I have a cup of juice, and that’s all.
For example I love croissant, but that must be perfect. You take away from the thing and you have no pleasure.
Your parents were both in the restaurant industry. Is that how you discovered your passion for food?
I don’t like the job in the beginning. Because my parents do that, I must do that. But it was not my choice. The passion came when I feel with the food that you can catch the attention of the guest. It’s a fantastic way to link with the world. The capacity of the food is incredible.
How would you describe your personality?
Pascal Sanchez: Curious. Loves people. Loves to share. Enthusiasm. A lot of enthusiasm. And very respectable of people.
Pierre Gagnaire: The only way to live is to respect people. When you have a small problem, you’re alone. It’s the number one, you must respect people. Sometimes you can be happy with them, you can have a problem but If you don’t respect people, one day you pay.
Do you have anyone you consider your mentor?
Because like my way to work is a mistake. I begin to work very early. I was not in a good position to have a teacher. I respect chef, but it’s not a mentor.
When you’re on the bridge you need to have support. It’s impossible to be alone.
What do you consider the top moment from your career?
It will be tomorrow. As a human being, if you have to say to someone, the top of my life was this, they stop living.
Each age bring the possibility to be the same and to be a better person. Explain to me couple of years saw a couple dancing on a dancing show about the tango. In this show, there were many dancers young and older. The most emotional was the older couple. They don’t move because they’re older. The way they work with their eyes and fingers was so incredible, so fantastic.
Each time of your life can be fantastic. Each day you can be incredible.
I’ve known Pascal for 16 years. He grew. He has the talent. Now he’s changing since a couple of months ago, he has a daughter. He’s very happy with that. He’s quiet. He’s become very good.
What happens when someone wants to order a hamburger at Twist?
We do it. We’ve done it. In London, we have a burger. Why not? It was the entree with black truffle. On a very nice bun like a brioche.
When you have a burger with 80 percent fat and 20 burger, there is no taste. But if you have a good burger, good bread, it’s fantastic.
The idea to have something like that you pick up and you eat.
When I was in London, the chef asked me, “Chef do you want a sandwich?” Cheese, the perfect size. Not too greasy, tasty. A big piece beef sandwich impossible to eat. Nightmare.
It was a bloody nightmare.
It’s not the name, it’s the quality of the work. You see?
It’s not a problem to eat a good sandwich.
Yesterday I ate at a restaurant. I was alone. They did not recognize me. I do not give the name. It was bad.
· All Coverage of Twist by Pierre Gagnaire [~ELV~]