Jean-Michel Lorain has received numerous accolades throughout his career in recognition of his unrivalled expertise in the art of preparing fine cuisine. In 1993, the prestigious Gault et Millau restaurant guide proclaimed him Chef of the Year, awarding his cuisine the highest mark of 19.5. In the interests of putting the spotlight away from himself and onto his team and their peerless dedication, Jean-Michel does not place himself at centre stage, even willingly admitting to a certain distrust of awards and the many pitfalls of being in the media. Rather hard work and respect will always be the basis and overwhelming “trademark” of a Lorain kitchen…
Literally raised around fine cuisine, his love of gastronomy was inherited in the shadow of his grandmother and parents Michel and Jacqueline Lorain, as he admiringly watched their every move in the kitchen, captivated by the intoxicating aromas and exquisite ingredients. This deep-seated love has been passed down from one generation to another and gastronomic cuisine quickly became a family specialty.
In 1971, a first coveted star in the Michelin Guide rewarded Michel Lorain’s enduring efforts in the kitchen and at the reins of the Côte Saint Jacques, with his wife Jacqueline then establishing her own standing as a renowned wine steward. In 1976, a second star was awarded and the following year it was Gault et Millau’s turn to bestow an honor on Michel Lorain with its three red chef’s hats.
The twin team of Michel and Jean-Michel Lorain worked like a charm; in 1986 they were awarded a third Michelin star and Gault et Millau honored Jean-Michel with the highly prized title of Chef of the Year. After this the family business went from strength to strength attaining exceptional heights and its reputation to this very day is almost without equal.
In 2001 Jean-Michel took over the reins of the house alone, and nowadays is delighted that his daughter Marine has decided to become an integral part of the Lorain empire with an enthusiasm for the culinary arts almost matching his own. Such is Jean-Michel’s implicit trust and confidence in her innate abilities that she is currently the general manager at J’AIME by Jean-Michel Lorain, his first foray into Asia at the luxury U Sathorn hotel in Bangkok, Thailand.
1. What is your philosophy when it comes to food?
Simplicity, true products, creativity, pleasure and sharing.
2. Name your most Favorite dish on the menu? And why?
Ocean oyster terrine with shallot confit, red wine gelée and spinach. This dish is truly special to me as it was the first dish I introduced on our à la carte menu in my restaurant La Côte Saint Jacques in Burgundy and which became one of my signature dishes. Out of all the dishes I’ve created over the years this one holds a special place in my heart.
3. Main considerations when it comes to choosing your ingredients?
My main priority is to first use products I like personally. Secondly will be the quality of the products. Most of our products are bought from suppliers who we have worked with for many years. The relationship between us and our suppliers is very strong and I trust them completely.
4. How do you see the growing demands for sustainable produce affecting the food world?
Of course, increasing the quality of products is a good thing and the trend nowadays tends to be more and more organic, but this is not a reason to reject some other supplier who does not carry that label. For me the labeling of goods as organic, gluten free, dairy free… these trends that have been launched by supermarkets in order to sell more with a bigger margin.
5. If you weren’t a chef, or in the food business, what would you be?
6. Do you have a memorable food experience that impacted you as a child or young chef?
My favorite memory is a meal I had during my internship in Alain Chapel restaurant in Mionnay, who unfortunately passed away many years ago; he’s always on my mind even today.
7. What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
What motivates me the most as a chef is seeing the pleasure and satisfaction on the faces of my guests after their meal. There is no greater satisfaction for me than reading the happiness in their eyes.
8. Other than creating good food, what are the most important qualities that make a successful chef?
Cooking takes a lot of passion, a lot of hard work and a touch of genius.
9. If you had a choice of anything for your last meal, what would you choose to have?
I’m not really bothered about what the food is so long as it’s a last family meal with all the people I love.
10. Do you have any tips for budding chefs or restaurateurs?
In my opinion we are doing the greatest job in the world but it has to be done with love and passion. It is the pleasure of our guests which has to guide us in our career and always remember we are cooking for them, not ourselves.
ADDRESS: 105, 105/1 Soi Ngam Duphli Thung Maha Mek Sub-district Sathorn District, Bangkok 10120, Thailand
PHONE: +66 (0)2 119 4899