Born in Versailles and raised in Paris, Viannay moved to Lyon in 1998, where he opened the bistro Les Oliviers, followed by a second more formal restaurant, the eponymous Mathieu Viannay, in 2001. In 2008 he took over and revived the historic La Mère Brazier, originally opened 1921 by the legendary Eugénie Brazier.
How did it go with Gelinaz, Perfecte?
It was an amazing experience! I think GELINAZ! found a really fun way to connect chefs without them having to leave their kitchens. It was perfect for us because we never leave our restaurant, we are such a small team that we cannot afford to miss a night. Our daughter is also just over a year old making traveling extra challenging.
What was most challenging and what was best about it?
The most challenging part was trying to do something from a chef we didn’t know. Trying to understand the chef’s overall vision for the menu. We suspected he/she was French, but we weren’t sure because the world seems so small with how easy it is to connect with people and cultures all around the world. Once we found out it was Mathieu Viannay’s menu, we were very happy! We tried to replicate his ingredients with what we have here in our own style. Our kitchen is wood-fire only so knowing when to let the smoky flavor come through and when to hold it back was also something we had to consider to not lose the integrity of his original dish.
The best part of the experience was definitely the challenge. I think that is what all chefs want. Doing the same thing day in and out is very boring. We like to complicate our lives a lot at Tarsan i Jane to stay relevant and to continually offer our guests an experience that changes each time they join yet is a constant evolution of our vision. I also really enjoyed learning more about Mathieu through his food. It was a pleasure to cook food from Mathieu, the chef of La Mère Brazier-a restaurant with such a rich history.
What do you think to have the guest chef from who you got matrixes and you in common and what are the greatest differences between you two?
I think we both have in common the need to start the creation of a dish by finding the highest quality of ingredients from our area and our love for incorporating other cultural influences into our native cuisine. Our approach to finalizing dishes is probably our greatest difference. Mathieu has a strong French base and classic flavours. I was punk rocker since I was quite young and like to bring that loud and vibrant energy into my plates through combining many flavors and playing around with multiple textures.
It is so hard to choose a favorite dish, I really enjoyed working with all of them! I can narrow it down to two. Mathieu made a dish with of “Thin tart of gambas and Basque sausage”. It had a thin tart topped with mashed turnips that were seasoned with gambas consommé, blanched lettuce, fine slices of peach and turnips, Xistera (Basque sausage), gambas, fennel flowers and watercress salad. I thought Mathieu wanted the essence of this dish to be all about the bold flavors from the gambas and Xistera presented on a fun vessel to eat and heightened by the accents of turnip and peach. We used carabineros (deep-sea prawns) in place of gambas and presented the bodies of the prawn on a skewer dusted with Ethiopian Berbere before smoking them in hay and topping with ginger air. We presented this alongside a savory éclair (quite challenging to make in a woodfire oven!). The éclair was filled with a cream made from a reduction from the heads of the carabineros and llangonissa roiga, my grandmother’s recipe for a red sausage we make in Valencia. We then topped the eclair with quick brush of rendered fat from 5J’s jamón ibérico 100% bellota, an umeboshi we made from salt cured wild plums, compressed radish balls dusted in beet ash and lettuce gel.
The other dish was “Pike and caviar bread with carapace juice”. This was like a pike terrine almost that was sandwiched between very thin and beautifully crispy slices of bread before being topped with caviar and placed on a plate with a moat of lobster and butter reduction. We remixed this plate by making a bacallà paté in place of pike as I grew up with salted cod. We piped this paté into a merengue decorated in lines of music because music has always been near and dear to my heart. In addition to the merengue we also wanted to add the element of crispy Mathieu’s recipe called for with migas (crispy breadcrumbs that we also made with my grandmother’s recipe for blood sausage). This sat of a bed of piquillo pepper sauce. Alongside this we presented a lobster bisque with caviar “boba”.
Yes, we would love to do include both of these as a part of our menu for next year!