Restaurateur Mauro Maccioni, one of the owners of the famous NYC restaurant Le Cirque is quite unabashed when it comes to declaring his love for food that is old school. “I don’t get to eat out as much as I should, given that I am in the business. But when I do, I like my food old fashioned,” he claims. And he has a thing for speciality restaurants too. “I don’t get multi-cuisine restaurants. I don’t have anything against them, but if I want seafood I will go to a place that specialises in that, and not to a place that serves a little bit of everything.”
Having said that Maccioni admits that there are quite a few restaurants in New York City that are doing really well when it comes to serving food of different cuisines.
In Bangalore recently, to work on a new menu with Le Cirque’s new Chef Giuseppe at The Leela Bangalore, Maccioni talks about the values of Le Cirque, and his food philosophy.
On the new menu
Every time a new Chef comes in to Le Cirque, and in this case in Bangalore, it can be a difficult thing for him. Le Cirque has a long history, and not only does the new Chef have to incorporate a slice of that heritage into the menu, and our New York roots, he also has to keep in mind what the Chef before him has left behind. You could say that 60% of the new menu has to hold on to the tradition, and 40% is for him to work on. The new menu will also have two tasting menus – one will feature the classics, and the other will be the Chef’s signature six-course contemporary menu. We have been doing tastings and trials, and I must say it is turning out to be quite good.
The casual face
I have noticed that in New York, there is a move towards casualization when it comes to eating out. Eating out at New York City used to be a grand experience, but people don’t really want to wear suits and ties to dinner anymore. But I have this feeling that the old ways will come back after a few years. That is how trends work anyway, don’t they? It is the same for specialty restaurants. While I might want to pick a restaurant that is good for a particular thing, the fact that the city is a melting pot of cultures cannot be denied. And that has led to what one would call a ‘multi-cuisine’ restaurant. There are restaurants that served food from different cuisines. So you might find a terrific Indian curry, and an Italian dish together at the same place.
I don’t really experiment with trendy food. I am very old school, and I like straightforward food. I don’t understand this whole concept of food that looks more like a science project. I don’t get powders and flowers in food. Of course there is plenty of room in the food business, and I don’t want to disparage them, but it is not me.
Chefs might call me antiquated, and backward, but that is the way I think. To me food is a necessity, it is nourishment, and I would much rather have more flavour that styling on my plate. If a Chef tells me that he had a particular jazz musician in his mind while he was creating a dish that looks like a piece of art, it will be lost on me. Then again, art too is a necessity, but it is not me.
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Priyadarshini is an independent journalist from Bengaluru whose life pretty much revolves around food, good music, literature, and cinema. She’s worked with different publications over the past 10 years, and has written about travel, theatre, films, books, music, food and lots of food! She’s travelled wherever her feet and budget would allow, discovering cultures through local palates and social behaviour, and in an ideal world would probably resort to using food and music to resolve any dispute.