Friday 22 January 2016
With luxurious menus in the opulent surroundings of a Bordeaux wine chateau, two Michelin-starred chef Jean-Luc Rocha is bringing classic French haute cuisine into the 21st century.
His CV includes time spent at the legendary French temple of gastronomy La Pyramide (once run by one of the greatest chefs of the 20th century Fernand Point) in the Rhone Valley where he worked as sous chef to Patrick Henriroux, another two Michelin starred chef. He joined Château Cordeillan-Bages in 2002 when innovative chef Thierry Marx headed up the kitchens and took over the reins in 2010.
The mid-19th century built Chateau Cordeillan Bages (a Relais & Châteaux member since 1992) boasts a magnificent vineyard setting on the edge of Pauillac between the Gironde estuary and the Atlantic in South West France. As well as producing some very fine Medoc wine, the chateau is famous for Rocha’s superlative regional cooking.
In an understatedly elegant dining room set with white linen and dark wood chairs, there’s little to distract from Rocha’s contemporary cuisine that he describes as having ‘soul and heart and which showcases the best products
of the South West’. It’s a claim that’s more than borne out by dishes like blue lobster roasted with oregano butter, parsnip mousseline and coral emulsion; marinated semi-smoked monkfish and Aquitaine caviar or squab breast and leg with pumpkin cheesecake.
Although Rocha’s cooking is profoundly rooted in the French style, don’t be surprised to find quail accompanied by an Indian tandoori spiced jus or a just-cooked egg and Comté mousse paired with Spanish chorizo. As the chef himself points out: “The Medoc is a
land of immigration, of inspiration where all nationalities and all cultures cohabit.”
With such a fine cellar on hand, a meal at Chateau Cordeillan Bages is also about pairing superb wines with the cuisine and Rocha is a master of the ar t. His suggestions might include Château Lynch-Bages 2012 white Bordeaux with asparagus or a Chateauneufdu-
Pape Blanc to contrast with a rich dish of foie gras with port reduction, mushrooms and green apple sorbet.
In 2007, Rocha achieved the status of Meilleur Ouvrier de France, one of the highest accolades a French chef can aspire to. He is the co-author of Lynch-Bages & Cie – A Family, A Wine and 52 Recipes, which won the 2013 Philippe de Rothschild literary prize.
Jean-Luc's Obsession 16 Menu:
AMUSE-BOUCHE - CRÉMEUX DE COMTÉ
COMTÉ CHEESE CREAM
Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, Domaine de Sénéchaux, Rhône Valley, France, 2012
SOUPE GLACÉE DE POMME DE TERRE ANISÉE AUX HUITRES
ANISEED ICED POTATO SOUP WITH OYSTERS
Château Villa Bel-Air Blanc, Graves, Bordeaux, France, 2012
FOIE GRAS CHAUD EN CROUTE DE CÉRÉALES, SORBET POMME VERTE
WARM FOIE GRAS IN A CEREAL CRUST, GREEN APPLE SORBET
Riesling, Spätlese, Schlossböckelheimer Felsenberg, Hermann Dönnhoff, Nahe, Germany, 2011
CAILLE EN DEUX CUISSONS, RAISINS ET FIGUES RÔTIS AUX AROMATES, JUS AUX ÉPICES DOUCES
TWO WAYS COOKED QUAIL, ROASTED GRAPES AND FIGS, SWEET SPICES, JUICE
Pinot Noir Bannockburn, Felton Road, Central Otago, New Zealand, 2014
COCO CITRON FAÇON BOUNTY
LEMON COCONUT BOUNTY-STYLE
Late Harvest Semillon, Gewurztraminer, Casa Silva, Colchagua Valley, Chile, 2014