A cornerstone of JAG’s French cuisine is the myriad Alpine herbs which line the wall of Gillon’s open kitchen. Over 40 types of indigenous herbs from the Savoie region in the French Alps, including apricot-scented coucou flower petals, grains of thym citron and savoury ortie leaves, are among the display. Each one is air-dried and then regularly sent over to the restaurant in Singapore by a friend of the chef in the fashion of bouquet garni (French for “garnished bouquet”).
The herbs are then infused in each of Gillon’s creations in a signature combination of a Savoie herb, a seasonal vegetable and fresh protein. For Valentine’s Day, Gillon has chosen sweetly-scented sureau, more commonly known as elderflower in these parts of the world, to highlight a dish he specially created for the restaurant’s celebratory menu, named Sureau, Scallops And Celeriac. Sureau lends a floral and herbaceous fragrance to the dish and is the perfect bridge between the savoury scallops and earthy celeriac and truffles, explains the chef.
For Gillon, the herb is a reminder of home: “My mum in France makes a sureau vinegar, which we use in this dish as well.” While Mum’s recipe is a secret, Gillon says, home cooks can make vinegar by combining alcohol such as wine, white vinegar, salt, sugar and fresh herbs.
And the chef’s suggestion for the perfect Valentine’s Day gift? “A romantic dinner and a unique perfume,” he says. “But to me the most important ingredient is to have a great time by creating a unique moment that holds significance for just the two of you.”