Celebrate artisanal produce. It may be an old phrase uttered by just about every media-savvy chef on the back-to-roots bandwagon. But to this native of
Julien Royer knew first hand as a child that the bounty of each season is both a gift from nature and a labour of love. And throughout his career, including early days while under the wings of Michel Bras, Bernard Andrieux and Jean Georges Vongerichten, he worked with growers, producers, fishermen: real people who devote their life to nurturing artisanal ingredients. So the 30 year-old does not mutilate the ingredients with molecular wizardry but coaxes its natural essence out tenderly through clever use of traditional techniques.
It might be hard to think that, slightly more than a year ago, he was dishing out pretty conventional fare at a brasserie. At the helm of fine dining institution Jaan, he no longer hides behind the restaurant, but stands proud on this stage, sharing with one and all his unfussy manifesto of simplicity and respect.
But what has caught the attention of industry observers is the originality of his food. It has the depth of cuisine from the hands of an old soul, and playful touches that betray his curious nature and child-like personality. Perhaps a bundle of rosemary tucked under your bowl, to greet you with its fragrance when you aren’t expecting it; or Poilane bread, not sliced and served on the side but burnt into a completely charred block, to be grated over dishes to add a hint of smokiness.
For his work, Royer has been named Rising Chef Of The Year at World Gourmet Summit's Awards of Excellence 2012 – but his patrons need not a title to recognise his brilliance. The proof is in the eating.