It’s not often that a Michelin Star chef visits Ghana, let alone one awarded a Michelin Star three times. And, if that weren’t enough to satisfy the epicurean elitists, Jean-Luc L’Hourre has also received the highly prestigious title of “Meilleur Ouvrier de France” (MOF). So, when he recently came to Accra as part of the third annual “Goût de France” or Good France event, TimeOut Accra was honoured to receive an invitation from the French Ambassador Mr Francois Pujolas and his spouse Mrs Revati Pujolas to interview Chef L’Hourre at their residence.
The Chef working with his team, carefully serving the beautifully decorated plates at the prestigious dinner at the Residence of France in Accra.
Having had a keen interest in gastronomy and cooking since his teenage years, Chef L’Hourre has worked in some of Paris’ most prestigious restaurants, such as Taillevent, Lasserre and La Tour d’Argent. He has also shared his know-how with students at the prestigious Paul Bocuse Institute in Lyon. Currently the resident head chef at the five-star Marinca Hotel and Spa on the island of Corsica, he concentrates on bringing fresh ingredients, particularly seafood, to the fore.
(From Left to right) François Pujolas Ambassador of France to Ghana, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo, theFirst Lady, Chef Jean-Luc L’Hourre, the President of Republic, Nana Adoo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and Mrs Revati Pujolas, spouse of the French Ambassador.
Taking time away from his preparation of a six-course dinner for 80 VIP guests, including President Nana Addo Akufo Addo, and serving such mouthwatering dishes such as “Ghanaian Jumbo shrimps poached in Citronella” and “Crunchy Meringue, Ghanaian Pineapple and Green Lemon Compote”, Chef L’Hourre told me a little about his experience of Ghana, and plans to return in the future.
Is this your first time in Ghana?
It is my first time in Africa. I have travelled to Dubai, Asia, Hong Kong, everywhere else, but this is my first time in Africa.
Have you had a chance to see much of Accra? Will you be visiting any of the restaurants involved in the Goût de France event?
We have been to Santoku, and I thought the different ingredients and presentation was a good idea. There is potential to promote Ghana, particularly with these restaurants.
The menu you have created for the VIP dinner aims to bring France and Ghana together, with French inspired dishes using local ingredients, or locally available ingredients. Do you think you might take anything from Ghana back with you?
Of course I will take back the good memories of Ghana with me, but I think there are a lot of good products and talent here, and I look forward to coming back to contribute.
During your visit you have been involved in a meeting with Ghana’s new Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture, and leaders of the local hospitality and catering industry to understand the needs of the sector here, and to explore possible cooperation in training and education, partly supported by French actors. How do you see yourself being involved in this initiative?
I would like to come back for training of the staff. I would like to teach young Ghanaians the basics of French cuisine. There is a lot of potential in Ghana, and we look forward to creating a Franco-Ghanaian relationship in hospitality and catering.
What is your best piece of advice for our readers in terms of improving their own home cooking?
Training is key, but I think it’s most important to respect the ingredients. For example, I have noticed that food here is often overcooked. So, especially do not overcook your meat, and respect the proper cooking method. If you do this you will eat well and healthily!
Chef L’Hourre has generously provided one of his more simple recipes from his book “Entre Corse et Bretagne” / “Between Corsica and Brittany” (below) for you to try at home. Bon appetite!
Parmesan short-crust Pastry, Seasonal Vegetable, and Butternut Puree Starter
Image from Chef L’Hourre’s book to accompany the recipe below
100g grated parmesan cheese
10g olive oil
½ litre chicken broth
1 Red onion
4 Small turnips
4 Leaves of red chard
4 Small radish
½ Red capsicum
Parmesan short-crust pastry:
Using a food processor, mix the flour, butter, egg, olive oil and parmesan cheese. Remove and make a dough. Keep in the fridge for 20 minutes. Spread and cut into rectangles of 8cm x 2cm. Bake in the oven at 180oC for 15 minutes in a non-adhesive tray.
Wash all the vegetables. Cut capsicum and red onions into thin strips. Peel beetroot and cut it in very thin slices. Cut zucchini and tomatoes in fine slices. Place all the vegetables on an oven tray and bake them in the oven at 160oC for 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Butternut squash puree:
Cut butternut in small cubes. Heat the oil and add finely chopped onion and leek. Add butternut and then chicken broth. Cook for 20 minutes and then blend into a puree.
Place the baked short crust pastry in the centre of the dish and dress with the butternut squash puree. Decorate with vegetable juliennes and slices. Sprinkle a dash of sea salt before serving.