The Relais & Châteaux 14-Hand Feast is held today in Hangzhou, brought together by 7 top chefs from Asian members of the association. This rare collaboration not only represents Relais & Châteaux’s leading position in promoting culinary art, but also a further practice of the association’s promises in better environment, health and well-being.
As the world’s most renowned non-profit association of boutique hotels and gourmet restaurants, each year Relais & Châteaux holds numerous culinary events in different parts of the world, and invite local chefs to create dishes that best represent the species, cooking methods and food culture in the area, promoting the idea of protecting local species and environmental diversity. Today, inspired by the Exquisite Fish project, 7 chefs from 6 Relais & Châteaux Asian members are gathered in Hangzhou to respond to the call for responsible cuisine by putting together a feast based on fish products from Qiantang River. This top-level feast pleasantly surprised the guests with creative and unexpected use of material and cooking methods.
Relais & Châteaux CEO Mr. Jean-François Ferret attended the feast and could not help his excitement before the event: “This is my second trip to Asia this year. The rich history of culinary art here has welcomed me with fresh experience for each visit, therefore I’m really looking forward to today’s experience. At this feast, we will see the sparks between Chinese materials, Indian culinary culture and French style, and I believe it would be a huge success. Diversity is what we’re proud of at Relais & Châteaux. With 550 members in 60 countries, each of them is unique, yet share the same highest standards in terms of their offerings. As a non-profit association, our vision is to build a more sustainable world of hospitality, which includes diversity in terms of local culture, culinary methods and species etc. We sincerely hope that your every visit at Relais & Châteaux members will be a full experience of the best of local culture.”
With a refreshing appetizer from Rame Gowda of Relais & Châteaux Indian member Shreyas Retreat, the feast addressed the theme of ‘health and well-being’ with crispy lentil dumplings, which came with coconut dip and layered Indian pancake. An ultimate destination for yogis around the world, Shreyas Retreat is not only famous for yoga practice, but also a menu of delicious, nutritious and detoxicating dishes developed by Rame and the team. Each dish is a perfect integration of traditional and scientific cooking methods. Like a piece of prelude, it prepared the guests for the main tunes.
Following the appetizer, five chefs from China reinterpreted classic Chinese river fish and seafood dishes with four completely different approaches. HE Xiao of Chaptel Hangzhou presented a French Oyster Trio which washed the guests mouth with a shower of fresh, energetic taste from the sea. ZHAO Guangyou, Chef at JE Mansion Beijing gave Braised Prawn with Oil a twist, while LU Yao of Yihe Mansions gave a complete do-over to the traditional meat ball in soup by integrating longirostris (a local river fish) and wild vegetables into the ingredients. The soup, clear yet tasty, achieved a perfect balance between all flavours. Last but not least, YU Ning and FENG Ning from one of Hangzhou’s most renowned restaurant Jie Xiang Lou, the main restaurant of the Relais & Châteaux 2017 new member Seven Villas, presented Braised Qiantang River Eel, with Chinese yam puree and dried Osmanthus flowers. Famous for the zero waste concept, Jie Xiang Lou is respected for its chefs’ creativity in making seasonal dishes. The eel, with floral aroma and a tender texture, embraced everyone’s taste buds with a soft hug.
In addition to the protection of sea species, Relais & Châteaux has also initiated projects and events related to bee protection and other areas of environmental protection, such as vegetable gardens and sustainable gastronomy. Together with Slow Food International, the association is also putting resource and work into preserving food species and environmental diversity, connecting restaurants, chefs, farms, fishermen and educators to promote the beauty of nature, the source of our food, and to encourage more public participate through daily dietary.