Features 3 minutes 31 March 2023

Christophe Lerouy on Nourishing with Growthwell Foods

Christophe Lerouy of one-MICHELIN-starred Lerouy transforms Growthwell Foods’ plant-based products into fine-dining dishes.

With omakase menus that regularly change, one-MICHELIN-Starred Lerouy, along the iconic Amoy Street, is praised by our MICHELIN Guide inspectors for its less formal approach to French cooking, punctuated by Alsatian influences. Apart from its signature circular counter that affords the best views into the open kitchen, the wine list at Lerouy is also worth mentioning, with its unique labels from small-batch organic wineries.

At the helm of Lerouy’s kitchen is none other than Christophe Lerouy, the chef-owner of the eponymous restaurant. “The cuisine we do at Lerouy is classic French,” he says. “We make a lot of sauces, and, at the same time, we have a lot of Asian influences as well through our use of spices.”

Cooking Led by the Heart

With a menu that changes every month, or when the chef feels like it, the quality and availability of ingredients are of the utmost importance. “The defining quality of the restaurant, I suppose, is how frequently we change the menu — that’s simply the style of Lerouy. Sometimes we bring in dishes that we’ve made two years ago; sometimes, the guests can enjoy a completely new dish. It’s part of the surprise,” shares the chef. “Usually, I am guided by my emotions when I cook, so it really depends on what I feel like serving on that day.”

According to the chef, Lerouy opened five years ago, and he has regulars who come in every month. “They call me and ask, ‘Christophe, do you have a new menu?’ And sometimes, I say ‘not yet’ because we change it in the middle of the month; sometimes, at the end of the month.”

Lerouy expresses that as a chef, he always wants to do better everyday. “I always talk to our suppliers about what produce is available and what isn’t,” he shares. “Apart from my emotions, I am also guided by the produce available when coming up with our restaurant menu. We follow the European seasons.”

The cuisine at Lerouy is classic French, with hints of Asian influences.
The cuisine at Lerouy is classic French, with hints of Asian influences.

On Training the Palate

Lerouy shares that he learns a lot from everybody, especially from his chefs. “Slowly, you find your own way and style of cooking. You find what you like. At Lerouy, we never follow trends. I am also a bit strict in the kitchen — sometimes, my chefs will want to make a dish, and I am happy to serve it if I like it. If I don’t like it, we don’t serve it."

When it comes to deciding whether a dish will make it on the menu or not, Lerouy says that the trick is to have a little bit of everything. “A little bit of acidity, saltiness, not too much sugar, a reduction of some stock for flavour — that is the foundation for most of my dishes,” he says.

“I shaped my palate through travel and experience. When you visit many places and dine there, you are able to define what you like and what you don’t like. It’s as simple as that.”

Collaborating with Growthwell Foods

Lerouy has recently collaborated with Growthwell Foods on a very special dinner, featuring Growthwell Foods products prepared by the chef himself. “When Growthwell Foods approached us with the opportunity, I was excited to try something new. I’ve never worked with plant-based meat alternatives before, so I decided to give it a shot.”

Beetroot “Salmon” Tartare made with HAPPIEE!® Salmoniee Flakes
Beetroot “Salmon” Tartare made with HAPPIEE!® Salmoniee Flakes

Lerouy prepares two mains using products from HAPPIEE!®, a plant-based food brand powered by Growthwell Foods.

In the first dish of Beetroot “Salmon” Tartare, HAPPIEE!® Salmoniee Flakes are steamed and turned into a tartare with beetroot, green apple, and shiso leaf. “We made a rillette with some chives, olives, and some lemon juice. And on top of that, we put a gel of green apple and beetroot, and we finish with a little bit of freshness from the yuzu sorbet on top.”

The second course of “Calamari” features HAPPIEE!® Squidiee made with konjac. For this dish, Lerouy adapted a restaurant signature that originally uses scallops and swapped it with the konjac calamari. The calamari is sautéed and served with a déclinaison of celeriac — celeriac salad, celeriac beurre blanc, and celeriac gel. “It’s one dish we already have on the menu,” Lerouy shares. “We do this with nori, scallop, and caviar — and the guests love it. So we thought, ‘why not change the scallop to calamari?’”

“Calamari” featuring HAPPIEE!® Squidiee made with Konjac
“Calamari” featuring HAPPIEE!® Squidiee made with Konjac

When deciding on how to present the menu, Lerouy shares that they started by sautéing the products, seasoned only with salt and pepper. “We were quite surprised in a good way, especially with the calamari,” he says.

For the last course, a dish using Lion's Mane Mushroom from Growthwell Foods hints on Asian influences. Barbecued, and then glazed with a dressing of sesame oil and vinegar, the dish is served with braised daikon in soya sauce. “I love acidity, so we wanted to add that small touch of that to this dish,” says Lerouy.

Barbecued Mushrooms from Growthwell Foods with an Asian Dressing
Barbecued Mushrooms from Growthwell Foods with an Asian Dressing

Nourishing the Future of Food

For Lerouy, the word “nourish” is synonymous with “to make happy”.

“I also think nourishment has a lot to do with coming back to our roots,” shares the chef. “Every night, after a long day, I feel nourished after making myself a cheese and charcuterie platter paired with sourdough. A charcuterie board is a huge part of French culture, and this, to me, is my comfort food. This is what nourishes me.”

As a chef-owner of a MICHELIN-Starred restaurant, Lerouy welcomes his share of guests — some of which are a bit more particular about their diets. “I see a lot of people request for more options such as gluten-free, dairy-free, or vegetarian. At Lerouy, we try to adapt more and more to the evolving dining landscape. I’m not too sure what the future of food will look like, but what I have observed is that a lot of guests have an affinity for artisanal produce,” he says.

“As a chef, I never give up, and I am learning to be more patient. I have a new generation of chefs working at my restaurant — and I always tell them to be patient. It takes time to learn kitchen skills. You need to put in the hard work. As individuals, we also learn at different levels. Be patient and work hard.”
"What makes me proud is seeing my team succeed," expresses Lerouy.
"What makes me proud is seeing my team succeed," expresses Lerouy.

When asked what Lerouy loves the most about his job, his answer is simple: "Doing better and better each and every day. We see what is coming. What makes me proud is seeing my team succeed.”


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