Preserving Culture through Cuisine at La Villa French Restaurant
We live in a world that is ever changing. Technology, fashion and music all change at an astounding rate. What was popular yesterday, may not be tomorrow. This is as true in the world of culinary art as anywhere else, and as customer tastes change on a regular basis, so do the offerings that chefs and restaurants make to the customers.
But just like a little black dress, or a heart-breaking ballad, some things provide eternal appeal. Hidden down a quiet hem in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 2, is the city’s culinary equivalent of a classic Chanel suit. Elegant, simple and luxurious to the final detail, La Villa is the epitome of French sophistication. The vision of Chef Thierry Mounon, La Villa French Restaurant exists to provide an authentic gastronomique experience to each of the guests that pass through its doors. But in a city that will likely be unrecognisable in a decade, why do Thierry and the La Villa team work so hard to preserve something that originates in another time and place?
Living in a cosmopolitan city like Saigon, we are lucky to have access to a veritable banquet of international cuisine. This in turn has led to some excellent fusion restaurants. But as some cultures and cuisines blend together seamlessly, we should not forget to enjoy the traditional and authentic practices of a particular culture or nationality. For many, the opportunity of experiencing French fine dining whilst actually in France, may never be anything more than a dream. But at La Villa French Restaurant, Chef Thierry and the La Villa team’s dedication to recreating the aromas, flavours and ambience of the French fine dining experience, provides an opportunity to have a taste of another culture, another country, without travelling to the other side of the world!
From the perfectly pressed, pristinely white tablecloths, to the extensive selection of imported Les Freres Marchand cheeses, every part of the La Villa experience is as you would expect in a restaurant in Paris’ 8th arrondissement.
For centuries, France has had a reputation for creating great cuisine. Indeed, the prestigious Michelin star guide, hallmark of culinary excellence, was developed in France. Paris is also widely considered to be the place where the world’s first restaurant opened in 1765! By recreating classic dishes in the La Villa kitchen, Chef Thierry and his team preserve a record of the dishes that made France the envy of the culinary world for more than two hundred years.
Passed from generation to generation, classic French dishes, such as the exquisite Pithiviers, are a way to ensure that the Michelin starred chefs of the future have an understanding of what makes great cuisine, great!
In a world where high quality, mass produced products are available at convenience stores, supermarkets and artisanal outlets in most towns and cities, it is quite possible for people to experience high quality dining in the comfort of their own home, without ever understanding how the food was prepared.
At La Villa, Chef Thierry ensures that this is not the case for any of his team. Following the strict structure of French fine dining traditions, everything at La Villa is prepared from scratch every day. Each Chef de Partie, Junior Chef de Partie and commis becomes an expert in preparing classic dishes and developing the necessary skills to do so.
But at La Villa, it is not only the brigade de cuisine that have an extensive knowledge of the intricacies of classic French gastronomy. The Front of House team are fully aware of the origin of the dishes, the ingredients that are contained within them, and which bottle from La Villas’ excellent wine selection will make the perfect accompaniment to each one.
By training staff to appreciate the complexities of creating a truly fine dining experience, La Villa ensures that a new generation of diners not only have access to a sumptuous meal, but also a culinary education should they wish to obtain it.
As with all industries that evolve and develop, there will always be those who want to be ‘on trend’. There will always be those who push boundaries and experiment with new combinations and styles. But alongside those innovators and trailblazers there will also be those that preserve and maintain what has come before. Those that preserve history and culture, and pass traditions onto a new generation. And just as there is a reason why Chanel continues to be one of the best respected fashion houses in the world, there is a reason why La Villa continues to be considered one of the best restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City. The attention to detail, the exceptional quality, and the enduring appeal of creating something beautiful, mean that while something else may be ‘trendy’ right now, people will always have the desire to experience something classic.
Image source: La Villa French Restaurant