Chefs have to wear many hats these days: farmers, scientists, ambassadors – and even librarian, in Jeremy Gillon’s case. The chef-owner of restaurant JAG keeps a “herb library” — an edible catalogue of 40 types of indigenous herbs from Savoie in the French Alps — that takes pride of place in his intimate 26-seat dining room. Each dish is presented with jars of spices rarely seen outside the region like apricot-scented coucou flower petals, grains of thym citron and ortie leaves that smell uncannily like a seafood stock. Together, they set the stage for the Alps-inspired culinary adventure the Normandy-born chef wants to take his diners on.
By adopting the Japanese “omakase” concept of leaving the decision to the chef to JAG’s French cuisine, Gillion and his business partner Anant Tyagi hope to create an atmosphere where diners can relax as if they were at home. It also gives Gillon a free hand to spotlight the herbs in his recipes, which results in unique creations and wholly new flavours for local diners, he says.