The Philisophy of French dining

May 31, 2015

Why you won’t get your authentic French dining experience at Le Jardin when you’re in a hurry

Le Jardin Manila is nothing like your average, quintessential French restaurant. Instead of the usual intimidating atmosphere with diners dressed to the nines, enter Le Jardin and you’ll find a warm and inviting ambience, plus friendly wait staff to assist and guide you throughout the entire course of your meal.

In fact, there’s no dress code required at Le Jardin. As long as you arrive with the appetite of a true ‘gourmand,’ which, in French, refers to a person who loves food, then you’re welcome to eat! That, after all, is owner Chef Gils Brault’s philosophy. He prefers to do away with the usual stuffiness of French restaurants, and would rather concentrate on the food.

“Don’t visit Le Jardin if you won’t have time to enjoy every moment of your dining experience” Chef Gils would always say. “Because here, we’re all about relishing your food—savoring each flavor to the last bite!
Le Jardin is the place for gourmands.”

What Chef Gils and his team do behind kitchen doors is definitely enough reason for guests to take time and savor their food. “People come to our restaurant to eat things that aren’t available elsewhere,” he explains. “That’s why we take time to make and prepare it the way they’d love it.”

Chef Gils doesn’t care much about what experts say, nor what tradition dictates. He’s not about importing everything from France, just because Le Jardin is French. Rather, he cares more about getting the best and freshest ingredients. Their foie gras is imported from France, while their duck comes from an organic farm in Davao. Their fresh oysters are from Aklan; and their tuna is delivered from General Santos.

And from the wine and baked bread and rolls served to diners the moment they are seated at the restaurant, down to the cheese options they finish their meal with, as with every little detail at his restaurant, Chef Gils makes sure each serving’s quality is top-notch.

Chef Gils has personally hand-picked the wine offerings available at Le Jardin. He travels to France and visits the vineyards, to see, or rather, taste for himself, what he would deem the best wines suitable for Le Jardin, as well as for his famous restaurant in Vietnam, Les Trois Gourmands.

Aside from baking their own bread, Le Jardin’s cheeses are produced in-house, too. Made inside a controlled room which only trained personnel are allowed access, their cheeses are produced from cow’s milk, aged to various textures, and flavored with different ingredients, such as rosemary and peppercorns, black olives, chives, ash, plain, and with nuts and herbs.

Doing away with conventions, Chef Gils is rather experimental, if only to come up with the best recipes possible. He makes spring rolls with foie gras. He’s not afraid to use things like ‘patis’ in his dishes. And his famous Dessert de Gils, is actually a mishmash of random items he throws together at the back of the kitchen when he’s too busy to put together a proper meal.

Call it instinct, or perhaps, a natural talent for food, but like a true gourmand, Chef Gils makes food his universal language to communicate, build relationships with his customers, as well as his staff.

Back in Vietnam, when Chef Gils was just starting Les Trois Gourmands, he gathered a team of local chefs and trained them. His staff barely spoke English or French, and he himself didn’t speak as much Vietnamese or English either. But they were able to communicate, through what he calls ‘kitchen French.’

Chef Gils found a common language with them. He used ‘kitchen French,’ too, when he trained two young Filipino chefs, Jonas Ng and Hasset Go, for Le Jardin Manila. Their love for food created a language in itself, that went beyond spoken words. The chefs, with different origins and backgrounds, communicated through what they could feel, smell, taste, and experience.

Training his staff for great customer service was a must for Chef Gils, because knowing the food they’re serving by heart is the only way they can give good and sincere recommendations, when asked by guests.

Aside from mastery of the French repertoire, Chef Gils teaches his staff patience and perseverance, because preparing authentic French fare is certainly no easy task. “They should understand, foremost, why we’re doing this—taking so much time to prepare food, when there’s always an easier route to just buy or import them,” explains Chef Gils.

And because he hires true gourmands like himself, his chefs and staff understand his philosophy. “At the end of the day, we’re all after one thing: seeing our customers’ smile, after they’ve enjoyed and savoured their meals,” concludes Chef Gils. “So, whatever it is we do in the kitchen to achieve that is worth it.”

His famous Dessert de Gils is actually a mishmash of random items he throws together at the back of the kitchen when he’s too busy to put together a proper meal.

Chef Gils has personally hand-picked the wine offerings available at Le Jardin. He travels to France and visits the vineyards to get the best wines suitable for Le Jardin.

Doing away with conventions, Chef Gils is experimental, if only to come up with the best recipes possible. For one, he makes spring rolls with foie gras.