Three-star chef at La Monnaie de Paris, creator of several other Parisian restaurants as well as one in Las Vegas, this passionate chef is overly active, but when we speak of cognac, Guy Savoy takes his time…
L.G. What does cognac represent for you?
G.S. For me, cognac is one of the most beautiful eaux de vie in the world, with deep roots in our culture and our vineyards. Vines are the source of such richness and diversity—they are the basis of our gastronomic culture. Just as Champagne is served at the beginning of a meal, cognac comes into its own at the end of an evening in good company.
What do you particularly like about cognac?
The double distillation gives it a certain refinement and elegance. We linger over a cognac. We prolong the tasting experience, sampling it at different temperatures depending on the setting and the occasion. As we swirl it in our glass, we rediscover history. With a little imagination, we travel back through time—such is the power of tradition. Cognac is not ‘just another product’. This eau de vie illustrates the concept of transmission, which is what our work is all about. We chefs only exist in relation to tradition. When we taste a cognac, we are perpetuating a tradition.
Have you ever attempted to pair foods with cognac?
Perhaps wild game such as mallard… I remember trying cognac with a tarte tatin once. But I remain convinced that cognac is sufficient unto itself. It needs no adornments. When we consider the age, the long development and the work that goes into a bottle, we can only bow our heads in respect.
Do you have a particular memory related to cognac?
A vacation at the Paradise Hotel in Mauritius with some dear friends, the Morne Brabant peninsula in the background and a light breeze—as if all the stars were aligned for a perfect moment.
How would you define cognac in three words?
Subtle, complex, unique. Ultimately, what are we looking for? For each mouthful to be amazing. For the cognac we chose to be unique and sufficient unto itself.
Has cognac ever surprised you?
All cognacs can have an element of surprise. We need to discuss it before we actually taste it, so as to not miss out on a beautiful discovery. And of course we are also tasting history. When we consider the decades of work that go into making cognac, we cannot take a tasting lightly. We are sampling a part of our very culture, our agriculture. We are experiencing a very real moment in an increasingly virtual world.
Have you ever been astonished at different kinds of cognac consumption?
I am not a big traveler—though I do go to Las Vegas regularly since I have a restaurant there with a dedicated Cognac Room. But even over there, I offer very classic tastings, by the glass, starting at 1 cl. What’s the ideal? Order two or three to see which one gives you the greatest pleasure. That’s how we learn. Personally, I’m attracted to very old cognacs, so tasting them is a bit academic. I have such respect for cognac that I inevitably think of the women and men behind it, who make it., and for me, that is something to take seriously.
More informations about Guy Savoy on his official website