Editor’s Note: This article on Michelin Star Chef Stéphane Andrieux of Chateau de la Treyne is from issue 6 of the magazine. It was the feature story and an amazing one at that. To see more of Mike’s articles from past issues, click here- Mike Alexander
The Chateau de la Treyne has been standing on the cliffs above the Dordogne River in France since the XIVth century. It has seen religious wars and world wars, was burned almost to the ground during one conflict and was rebuilt in the XVIIth century. During World War II, when the Nazis were marching into Paris the curators of the Louvre were quietly smuggling out famous works of art and many of them made their way to this chateau to prevent their falling into German hands. Although meanings are often lost with the passing of time, it is thought that the name la Treyne relates to a type of fishing practiced on the river when building first started.
Thirty years ago it was bought by the present owners Stéphanie and Phillipe Gombert who set about the daunting task of restoring it to its former glory whilst at the same time introducing the modern requirements of a luxury destination. When renovating a building of this nature there are countless obstacles that need to be overcome and worked around. Meter thick stone walls are never straight, there are a myriad of preservation laws to adhere to and the plumbing, heating and electrification need to be incorporated into a palace for which they were never designed.
Today the Chateau de la Treyne is a Relais Chateau. One of less than six hundred worldwide, bearing that distinction and as such required to uphold a strict standard of service, comfort and presentation. Its facilities must equate to a minimum of those found at a four star hotel. Relais Chateaux properties are secretly inspected every two years and owners are never advised by whom or when.
Of course one of the premier requirements that a Relais Chateau must offer is top class dining. Here the Chateau de la Treyne is very fortunate to have the services of Michelin star chef Stéphane Andrieux. He has been at the chateau for the past fifteen years and has held his Michelin star for the past twelve years.
Stéphane trained at the Angouleme Culinary Art Institute and worked under renowned chefs such as Marc Meneau in Burgundy and Pic in Valence before taking up his post as head chef at the chateau. Holding onto a Michelin star consistently for twelve years is no mean feat and he has also held three “toques” under the Gault and Millau rating system since 2002. Both these rating systems are extremely rigorous and restaurants are subject to blind inspections for regularity, quality and seasoning on a yearly basis.
Stéphane grew up not far from the chateau so in some ways his working there is a return to his roots. He is modest about his abilities and prefers to dwell on the importance of working with fine regional ingredients for which the area is so famous. When pressed he did say, however, that a great chef requires passion as well as the best of raw materials. He was also keen to point out that he had had the privilege of training under great masters of the culinary art.
Some months ago I ate at the chateau. Rather than choose something from the menu myself I opted for the chef’s choice, a feast of eight courses, each accompanied by a glass of wine recommended by the sommelier. The choices Stéphane provided me with that night were sublime but my favorite was the Asperges balluchon oeuf truffé. When asked what his favorite plate to prepare is I was delighted that he had chosen the dish I had enjoyed so much on that evening. For the daring reader here is Stéphane’s recipe:
Asperges Balluchon Oeuf Truffé
Ingredients for four:
20 green asparagus tips
For the egg parcel For the asparagus coulis
4 eggs 20 tails of green asparagus
50 g butter 10cl duck consommé
40 g truffle peels 50g of butter
10cl white vinegar 5cl truffle juice
Parmesan emulsion Finishing touches
250g cream 4 large slices of truffles
40g grated Parmesan cheese 4 green asparagus tips (thinly sliced)
1 sage leaf 4 croutons of bread
Hazelnut vinaigrette 20g clarified butter
210g hazelnut oil sea salt (Guérande)
40g sherry vinegar chervil for decoration
20g balsamic vinegar
Parmesan emulsion :
Heat the cream with sage leaf, add the Parmesan, cover and leave to infuse for 2 hours on the corner of the stove. At the time of serving remove the sage leaf, emulsify in a blender and strain.
Line the bottom of a ramekin with cling wrap. Generously butter, put in the bottom 10g of truffle peel a drop of white distilled vinegar, break the egg over the top, then top with 5g of chopped truffle and white vinegar. Raise the edges of the cling wrap and close the parcel. Tie and repeat for the other 3. At the time of serving cook 5 min 30 in an emulsion pan.
Cook the 20 asparagus tips in a saucepan of boiling well salted water, then cool.
Green asparagus coulis:
Cook your asparagus tails well. Once cooked, place in blender and purée. Add the duck consommé and whisk the butter. Pour in the truffle juice and strain.
Brown 4 croutons of bread in clarified butter. Slice finely the four remaining asparagus tips and season. Cook eggs. Pour the hot coulis into the bottom of the plate, put the crouton in the middle. Season the reheated asparagus tips with the hazelnut vinaigrette then place around the crouton as well as the finely sliced tips. Place the cooked egg on the crouton (salt with a few grains of sea salt) and top with a beautiful slice of truffle. Finally spread the parmesan emulsion to finish.