Grand Chefs Grand Chefs Relais & Châteaux Jacques and Laurent Pourcel are twins who are at the helm of Les Jardin de Sens, France. Born into the viticulture industry on the shores of the Mediterranean, and with a mother whose enthusiasm for regional cooking was never-ending, the Pourcel twins had their career path carved for them. Inspired by the south of France, their cuisine draws on both the land and the sea, playing with contrasts: hot and cold, smooth and crunchy, sweet and savoury, sweet and sour.
"Bras, Meneau, Gagnaire, Chapel and Trama were our masters and they started us on a journey that opened the doors of creative cuisine to us. We are passionate about what we do. In 1988, we opened Le Jardin des Sens in Montpellier with our friend Olivier Château and in 1998 it was awarded its third Michelin star in recognition of its elegant, creative Mediterranean cooking."
In 2000 they branched out onto the international stage. They now have restaurants in Bangkok, Tokyo, Geneva, Marrakech, Casablanca and Paris, but are also making their mark in Singapore (at Raffle’s) and in Shanghai, with the first Relais Gourmand in China (Sens & Bund).
Their desire for entrepreneurship and innovation extends far beyond the restaurants themselves. Cookbooks, “fast food” based on the idea of chic snacks, a cookery school, lounge bars and so much more is their world now. Passionate about exploring new culinary concepts and creating new dishes, they aim to share their findings and their passion for the cuisine of the Mediterranean coast. All their cooking is based on one guiding principle: olive oil, tomatoes and spices.
"Simplicity and product quality are at the very heart of what we look for, and we rely on good producers, small farmers and exceptional fishermen and livestock farmers who offer us truly excellent ingredients.
What was your most moving culinary experience?
Meeting Michel Bras, initially through his mother: he had the intelligence to combine creativity and local produce and to keep in touch with good family cooking, especially local specialities such as aligot – potatoes mashed with tomme cheese and garlic.
The other was discovering the cooking of Pierre Gagnaire, who brought ideas about design and modernity to food. His approach helped us to discover a style of cooking that pushed back the boundaries and redefined what was taboo.
The most amusing kitchen incident you ever witnessed?
We were doing a cooking demonstration for some very formal ladies who were keen amateur cooks at the Raffles hotel in Singapore and had prepared a roast pigeon with a cocoa sauce. We were both working on the recipe together: Laurent was cooking the pigeon whilst Jacques was preparing the vegetable garnish. We asked the young kitchen hand to go to the back kitchen to get the cocoa sauce we had already made. As he approached us with the saucepan full of sauce in his hand he slipped and drenched us in one broad sweep: we were covered in cocoa from head to foot! Not to mention the ladies’ suits... We fell about laughing, so that was the end of that day’s cookery lesson.
Your best piece of advice for amateur chefs?
Use the market as a source of inspiration and creativity for what you cook. Use local producers whenever you can. Retain flavour by cooking food that’s easy to understand and keeping cooking times reasonable.
- 3 Michelin stars
11, avenue Saint-Lazare
34000 Montpellier (Hérault)
+ 33 (0)4 99 58 38 38