Two-Michelin-starred Chef Jean-Michel Lorain returns to Bangkok to visit his second restaurant, J’AIME, the top French restaurant in Bangkok.
More than a haute cuisine hangout for discerning foodies, J’AIME is an expression of love for high-end French artistry in food as explained by the name of J’AIME, meaning “I love” in French. The concept of the restaurant is to introduce exotic French menus to represent the identity and quintessential nature of the food, whilst featuring the same identity as that which is on offer at La Côte Saint Jacques in Joigny, France (inherited from generation to generation by the Lorain family). The restaurant values the selection of ingredients from around the world, but also is committed to using the best local produce from Thailand to support local food producers and wholesalers. The menus also encompass products from the Royal Project.
Chef Jean-Michel Lorain discussed the achievement of being noted as a Michelin Star Chef: “The acquisition of a star, and the continuing commitment to attaining the second (or even third) star was always an adventure to me and of course is the ambition for many chefs around the world. It was the ultimate reward, the Holy Grail. I still remember exactly the moment we received the Three Star in 1986, and again in 2004. It was an extremely joyful and indescribable moment. I was only 26 years old in 1986 when we first received a Three Michelin Star whilst working with my parents and family.”
“I strongly believe that the arrival of the Michelin Guide in Thailand will have a huge impact on the Thai culinary business. This will create a big competition as the Michelin award is a very reliable indicator followed by the gastronome from the entire world – and in Bangkok it will also be like anywhere else in the world at this top level. To acquire a Michelin star, there is a lot of hard work, passion (that must be represented in the food), meticulousness and consistency. Of course, it demands a lot of talent but this alone, it is insufficient. It is also important to have the right people around and a competent team, united and sharing of the same passion. This is one of the reasons that I trust in my Bangkok branch as I have a very good team under the management of my daughter Marine Lorain, as well as in the kitchen with Amerigo Sesti and his sous chef,” he added.
For J’AIME, the quality of the product is also very important. Quality does not necessarily mean luxury. It does not stand that simply because a restaurant serves foie gras, truffle or caviar that it can hope to achieve more stars. Chef Jean-Michel Lorain explains, “I think that Michelin is also sensible in terms of assessing the way in which a chef is devoted to his cuisine, which means working with the season, within the region where the restaurant is located and its specialties and organic produce. This is the reason why we try to look for local produce as much as possible. The personality of the chef should be shown in his dishes (an actual Michelin judging criterion).”
The Chef believes that taste needs to be respected as well as the texture to make some association with all of the individual ingredients. He notes, “I work a lot with the contrast of flavours and textures, and so the fifth sense must be involved even through the touch. Finally, consistency is primary. One dish can be perfect and impressive on the day of its creation, but that is not enough; it needs to be perfect every day. I will say that if you want stars, your only obsession must be to make your guests happy, give them absolute pleasure through food and the ideas that it can inspire, and of course to enjoy your work. To want a reward every day is not enough, as it is more about the state of spirit that needs to be communicated to the whole team.”
Jean-Michel notes: “I have had the honour of winning a Michelin Star award already and since then have been able to bring my experience to lead and share with the J’AIME team what it takes to win. It does take a team to make it possible. We work and train very hard to continuously improve the finest and most innovative cooking techniques, select and source perfect ingredients not only in terms of flavour, but also freshness. We must infuse personality and creative style in making each dish unique – consistently doing all of this every day for every customer to ensure their experience is rewarding every time. When we do all of this, we will put ourselves in the best possible position to be awarded a Michelin Star. That’s everything in summary, and pretty much all we can do. The rest is up Michelin’s inspectors.”
He concludes, “I am very blessed to have an excellent team led by my daughter Marine and Chef Amerigo who has training closely with me for 4 years. They share the same passion, determination, desire and nearly limitless focus on continuous improvement to cooking techniques; as well as freshness and flavour of ingredients, and the creation of a unique personality and style of each dish to ensure our customers experience the absolute best every day.”
These are exciting times for the restaurant. In 2017 and 2018, J’AIME will reorient its cuisine in the pursuit of greater quality and refinement. Therefore, the restaurant will move away from the concept of sharing to traditional French style dining. The chefs at J’AIME will continue to use and look for more local produce in order to retain the same value for money, which is seen as very important to Chef Jean-Michel Lorain: “Good cuisine must stay affordable, it is very important. We will be continually improving and innovating our food and restaurant to ensure J’AIME guests always have the best experience .”
J’AIME by Chef Jean-Michel Lorain is located at U Sathorn Bangkok, Sathorn