Le Patio’s Chef Thierry Renou On Being Exceptional Every Single Day

“You can’t be average on Monday, good again on Tuesday, and exceptional on Wednesday. You have to be exceptional every single day,” Thierry Renou, from the MICHELIN-starred Le Patio in Aquitaine, nods.

Đọc bài viết bằng Tiếng Việt

It’s like that at Thierry Renou’s Le Patio in France, which received its MICHELIN star in 2012. In fact, it’s not his first MICHELIN-star (he’s had one star at three different restaurants), but it’s the first for his own restaurant. 

Fresh Ingredients From The Aquitaine Region

At his Le Patio, famous for its underground cave and shaded terrace, Thierry relies on that kind of consistency, and the fresh ingredients he gets from the Gironde and the Arcachon Basin – like seafood and foie gras. Bordeaux is next door, and there’s fresh truffles which are found nearby. “The Atlantic-Ocean oysters are particularly special,” he says seriously. And with all Thierry Renou’s knowledge and experience, you trust him completely. 

Sofitel Saigon Plaza’s 25th Anniversary Gala Dinner And Gourmet Week

Thierry is here to cook for Sofitel Saigon Plaza’s 25th Anniversary Gala Dinner, and, afterwards, to create another dinner and a masterclass as part of Sofitel Saigon Plaza’s Gourmet Week, their 5th edition of the event that, this year, takes place between October 6th and 8th.

Thierry Renou Aquatine marina
Thierry Renou at the marina that’s a short distance from Le Patio.

In Illustrious Company 

He’s in illustrious company. The gourmet week will welcome local chefs Adrien Guenzi of Lüne Restaurant, Sakal Phoeung from P’Ti and Le Corto, Shozo Tsuruhara of Fume, Sébastien Voelker of Patisserie Voelker, Vuong Vo from Coco Saigon, Victor Ceano Savall of Savall, and Truc Dinh of NakaThai and winner of Top Chef Vietnam 2023. And, alongside them, international chefs Keiko Nagae of Arome, Paris, Victor Ceano Savall of Savall who continues a 120-year-old Barcelona chocolate-making tradition, and, of course, Thierry himself – a chef known for his skill at combining the produce of his local region with Asian accents.

Despite kicking it off by cooking a course for the gala dinner for 170 people, Thierry Renou is sanguine about the whole thing. “It’s about concentration,” he explains. “So, the mindset of cooking for 170 people or cooking for guests at Le Patio every night is exactly the same.”

The Rule Of Four

Having earned the first of the three MICHELIN stars in 1993 at the Rivage in Giens, by now Thierry has a well-defined culinary philosophy. “I like to employ the rule of four – four textures, four flavors…” he elaborates.

Plus, he’ll play around with temperature too. The dish he’ll make, with those Atlantic oysters that he mentioned, at the gala dinner is a good example. 

“So, for example, in my smoked oyster dish, the four flavors that reveal themselves start with the freshness of lemon and celery, then the smoked, salty oysters come next, after that the richness of the foie gras and finally the crunch of mushrooms with their umami flavor. And the oyster is cold, but the foie gras is hot, and the lemon-celery is served at a medium temperature.”

Cuisine at Le Patio
The cuisine at Le Patio, where Thierry employs his rule of four.

“It’s not fusion cuisine”

That Theirry has infused that philosophy with lots of Asian accents is largely due to frequent trips to Thailand. “I think 35 times now,” he adds, before listing off his favorite places, “Koh Chang, Chiang Mai, Phuket…” 

He’ll add lemongrass to a fish dish or he’ll use some coconut milk with a pigeon dish. “But it’s not fusion cuisine,” he says, scrunching his nose, not entirely adverse to the word, but feeling it doesn’t quite fit what he does. “For me, the term isn’t clear, and I believe that, for guests, the concept of a restaurant needs to be simply expressed, but the surprise comes when they are eating.”

He’d prefer to focus on offering French cuisine driven by local ingredients. “That’s very, very important,” he says, “and with some Asian touches.”

Interior at Le Patio
Inside Le Patio, Thierry’s restaurant in Arcachon famous for its underground cave, shaded terrace, and MICHELIN-star cuisine.

The Second Time In Vietnam 

But this is only Thierry’s second time in Vietnam, he admits – he first came to cook with Sakal Pheuong at P’Ti Restaurant in 2019. And he is, at least, familiar with pot au feu, the slow-cooked French dish that may have been the inspiration for phở, and which he makes at Le Patio. “So, maybe we can go out to eat street food tonight after we’ve finished preparing?” he asks hopefully.

Discover more about Saigon Sofitel Plaza’s Gourmet Week, taking place from October 6th to 8th, here and here.

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