Lyon, July 2013

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ICEX LYONIn July Jean Christophe from L’Eglise, Hove teamed up with Yves Rivoiron of Le Café des Fédérations and Jean-Louis Gelin from La Meuniere to host the third International Chef Exchange.
 
Reviewed by Andrew Kay from the latest
 
International Chef Exchange is perhaps the most exciting project I have ever started. It all stemmed from a superb dinner at Beaumont Hotel in Maastricht cooked by chef Audrey Eussen a couple of years ago. Since then, Audrey has been to Brighton and Drake’s chef Andrew Mackenzie to Maastricht.
 

Chef proprietor and food festival supporter Jean-Christophe Martin of L’Eglise in Hove was taken with the idea and rather brilliantly managed to persuade two of Lyon’s best known chefs, Yves Rivoiron of Le Café des Fédérations and Jean-Louis Gelin from La Meuniere (more of him in another issue) to come to the UK on the exchange.
 
Lyon is a city dedicated to food, great food with one restaurant for every 240 members of the local population. That’s a lot more than even Paris!
 
Lyon is also the home of star chef Paul Bocuse, and you can’t go far without someone mentioning his name. Of course, Bocuse is a chef dedicated to great Michelin-starred gastronomy and there is plenty of that to be had in Lyon. But our host come from a different discipline, that of the Bouchon.

ICEX LYON NICK ANDREW
 
So what is a bouchon? Well, to be frank there is no real comparison in the UK. In a sense it serves the same purpose as the working men’s caff, but only in that it will serve food to people who work. The food is an entirely different kettle of… well not fish, let’s say meat. Yes, meat is at the core of all things bouchon in Lyon and I spent two days eating meats of all kinds, meats and wine, they are not averse to the odd tipple or ten.
 
Jean-Christophe is of course French so I was slightly apprehensive of him taking his cuisine to France, coals to Newcastle and all that. But I need not have worried as he had put together an impressive menu that represented so well what we have achieved in this country. And he was not backward in coming forward in telling the assembled foodies and chefs how good our British produce and cooking now is.
 
In support of this he had shipped out there some superb middle white pork and longhorn beef bone marrow to form the heart of his menu. The meats come from Richard Vaughan’s superb farm in Ross-on-Wye.
 
ICEX LYON JEANThe event was held at lunchtime, the traditional time to eat at a bouchon, and we started with plenty of the Great British Ridgeview sparkling white. The French agreed it was pretty damned fine although they are not prepared to accept that we Brits actually invented the méthode champenoise well in advance of them.
 
Plates of saucisson were handed round in advance of Jean’s first course, enormous platters of roasted beef bones from which we scooped the marrow onto superb bread and sprinkled with coarse salt. It’s a great dish, not for the dainty mouthed but packed with flavour from Richard’s exceptional beef.
 
This was followed by the superb pork, 55 days hung and lightly cold smoked before a slow roasting. It was moist and creamy rich, full of flavour that had les Française purring with delight like les chats that got le creme. He served it with buttery mash, savoy cabbage dressed with crumbled walnuts and roasted apples. It was an impressive example of how good British food can be when we simply let our quality produce speak for itself.
 
For dessert he made a crumble with apricots and strawberries. The scent of the fruits filled the room and that alone proved that you can do so much more with a strawberry than cover it in cream.
 
That afternoon we took a city tour that helped in walking it off, that is until our evening of wine and yet more charcuterie. I’m not sure I could eat like that more than once a month but it was a memorable experience and one that the French seemed to equally enjoy.
 
International Chef Exchange is part of the Brighton & Hove Food & Drink Festival. An hour-long TV programme has been made by Latest TV to be screened as part of the new channel’s launch early next year.
 
Le Café des Fédérations, 8–10 Rue Major Martin 69001 Lyon,
04 78 28 26 00, www.lesfedeslyon.com
 
L’Eglise, 196 Church Road, Hove, BN3 2DJ T: 01273 220 868 www.legliserestaurant.co.uk

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