A true French restaurant is not very common in China. But, a French restaurant with only one chef and one table is, in itself, even more rare. This summer, I had the pleasure of interning at Dix Noisettes, owned and run by Cordon Bleu Chef Luke Wang. His one-table restaurant seats at most ten people and his guests can choose the number of courses they wish to be served — with five being the maximum.
As Chef Wang’s intern, I was able to experience many elements of running a restaurant business, from shopping at the local food market to designing the menu for the week. I have to say, being the only employee at a restaurant is tough, even if you are only serving one table at a time. For example, certain stocks must be cooked overnight, requiring long hours at the restaurant, and time management is key in order to deliver dishes at the appropriate moment. Nevertheless, I noticed that these challenges certainly did not affect the creativity or taste of the dishes. Jam and bread is made fresh for all guests and dishes are designed around the best ingredients offered at the market. As I started work at Dix Noisettes, Chef Wang had just invented his own recipe of a savory white fish flan, pictured below.
The flan was cooked in a buttered mold and served atop a cream of mushroom sauce, topped with a marinated asparagus shaving and finally, some caviar. Delicious!
From both the chef and the guest’s perspective, a one-table restaurant delivers an experience that is truly unique. Being the only chef means freedom to let your dishes be inspired by personal experience. Take Chef Wang’s bread rolls for example. While the recipe is French-based, the method of rolling out the bread into its cute, little bun-like shape is reminiscent of bread rolls found in Taiwan, the homeland of Chef Wang. See bread rolls below:
As for the guest, the experience is unique in that you enter a very intimate courtyard to be seated in a private room decorated with the chef’s personal touches. The chef hand delivers each course and makes a presentation before his audience, describing exactly what flavor notes to look out for. At Dix Noisettes, one meal gives you a culinary experience to France with the convenience of never leaving your seat. Perhaps that is why I love food so much: its magical ability to lift your mind and senses to another world is truly delightful.
Annenberg/Cabot FLP Rep