The Michelin Star Studded Dinner experience

The Michelin Guide and SJM Resorts celebrated culinary greatness with four of the world’s top chefs at the Michelin Star Studded Dinner in January. Chae Eun Son enjoys a taste of Timeless Gastronomy and learns the importance of celebrating one’s own heritage while at the same time learning from others

Hideaki Matsuo’s lobster

The stars aligned on January 20 at the Grand Pavilion of the Grand Lisboa Palace Resort Macau, a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy, when four distinguished chefs, each adorned with the honour of three Michelin stars and with diverse backgrounds and career paths, came together to create an exclusive six-course dinner menu showcasing their distinct cultural identities and culinary traditions.

The dinner opened with an appetiser platter that immediately displayed the unique characteristics of each chef. Julien Tongourian of the Grand Lisboa’s own Robuchon au Dôme kicked things off with a tribute to his iconic legacy – imperial French caviar and king crab in a surprise box. This was followed by a beetroot rose presented by Sven Wassmer of contemporary Alpine restaurant Memories in Switzerland, providing the perfect palate cleanse. Ryotei master Hideaki Matsuo, of Kashiwaya Osaka Seniryama, paid tribute to seasonal changes with his sea urchin paired with avocado, carrot jam, zucchini and mullet roe. Finally, the tartlet with veal and black elderberry created by Heinz Beck of Rome’s only three- star restaurant La Pergola, was the perfect light yet and flavourful finish, leaving guests anticipating the next course.

Julien Tongourian’s wagyu beef chateaubriand and foie gras

A German chef living in Italy, Beck followed the appetiser with his twist on Mediterranean flavours with a focus on wellness. Inspired by a passion for food and health, he focuses on “developing more healthy, light and easy-to-digest food that helps you to age better and stronger.” At the Star Studded Dinner, he served marinated amberjack on celeriac in seawater and oxidised chocolate, a dish that required a meticulous process of marinating the celeriac in seawater to enhance its minerality. The chocolate was oxidised to reduce fat content while preserving antioxidants, and the choice of amberjack added to the dish’s light and healthy qualities.

To ease our stomach for the upcoming courses, Chef Matsuo next served his unique take on lobster inspired by his Japanese roots. The soup, which arrived at the table wrapped inside a plastic cover, released a captivating aroma that immediately filled the room. Each sip was a burst of rich flavour, highlighting the freshness of the lobster.

The appetiser platter

Wassmer’s signature dish, meanwhile, combined Swiss Alpine cuisine with global influences. He explained, “I always loved food and had the privilege of growing up in the landscape where we had our own fruit trees and a big garden.” One of the youngest chefs worlwide to receive three Michelin stars, Wassmer used this close connection to nature during his childhood as inspiration to present Knöpfli Swiss dumplings with roasted yeast and truffle, a dish that paid tribute to his hometown with luxurious touches, creating a sensational play on flavours.

For his course, Tongourian adapted a classic French dish to suit the preferences of Asian guests. “I like to embrace the old French style and make it more modern,” he said. His wagyu beef chateaubriand and foie gras “rossini” style with vintage port wine and the famous mash potato showcased his ability to cater to different palates. The use of tender Japanese beef added a modern twist to the traditional recipe, which also catered to local preferences.

Julien Tongourian’s “Dome”

Tongourian concluded the meal with a visually captivating dessert, the “Dome”. The delicate essence of Tahitian vanilla balanced the sweetness of the strawberries, creating a harmonious and stunning dessert that was truly a work of art. The dessert served as a perfect finale for the sensational dinner, leaving guests with a lasting impression.

It’s no secret that these four chefs are all accomplished and undeniably talented. It was surprising, however, to find out that they had never met before the creation of the Michelin Star Studded Dinner. During our exclusive interview, they revealed that their first encounter was over video, before flying in from around the world for the event.

Sven Wassmer’s Knöpfli

The chefs emphasised that the Michelin Star Studded Dinner was a celebration of cultural diversity. According to them, it was not a competition but rather a collaboration aimed at learning from one another and building friendships throughout the process. As Beck shared, “I think friendship is very important as it helps you to exchange ideas and grow all together.” Meanwhile, Matsuo conveyed his enthusiasm for collaborating with chefs from various backgrounds, as it provided him the opportunity to broaden his culinary skills. “While Japanese cuisine possesses a unique and distinct character compared to other cuisines, which may be less globally influenced, it has led to some unexpected discoveries during our collaboration,” he said.

Heinz Beck’s marinated amberjack

Passion for food and a willingness to take inspiration from other cultures are key traits of a successful chef, according to the four Michelin-starred chefs. As Wassmer explained, “It’s important for us to be open-minded, but never forget our heritage – our roots.” Building on the idea of the balance between learning from other cultures while embracing one’s own traditions, Tongourian, based in Macau, found the dinner to be a valuable opportunity to learn and be immersed in a new environment. He described how it was “very interesting to meet the chefs because every day I’m in my kitchen and it’s good to go outside, to open the mind – to see other chefs and other techniques.”

The one-of-a-kind dinner certainly provided a delicious stage for the chefs’ different backgrounds and brought together flavours from Swiss Alpine, Mediterranean Italian, French and Japanese cuisine. Guests were treated not only to sensational haute cuisine that stands the test of time but also a lesson in the importance of celebrating diversity and sharing a passion for food and culture. As Wassmer concluded, “It’s about bringing people together. It’s something that is slowly starting to fade out, and it’s important to celebrate that more.”

Also see: Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants director on Seoul food

In this Story: #dining