Clear your diaries for 18 October: Topaz is hosting another Les Étoiles Michelin Du Topaz. Promising another spectacular evening of beautiful Michelin-star dining in one of Phnom Penh’s smartest restaurants, this time we are thrilled to welcome Chef Philippe Girardon, founder of Domaine de Clairefontaine at Chonas l’Amballan to the south of Lyon, and one of France’s most exciting chefs.
Chef Girardon came up through the ranks working in great kitchens founded by some of the world’s most legendary chefs, including La Pyramide (established by the grandfather of modern French cuisine, Fernand Point), the The Waterside Inn, in Bray, England, established by Michel and Albert Roux, and l”Oasis, founded by the prolific Louis Outhier, one of the most highly decorated chefs of his time.
In 1983, at just 20 years of age, he decided it was time to return home and take up the reins himself. And so established himself at Domaine de Clairefontaine. This gloriously elegant 17th century country house hotel had once been a getaway for Lyon’s bishops. Within 10 years, the restaurant had secured a Michelin star, in recognition of Chef Girardon’s indisputable passion for and talents with seasonal, locally sourced produce.
Since then, the prizes and accolades have been fast coming. In 1997, Chef Girardon won France’s highly coveted and contested Meilleur Ouvrier de France, and in 1999 he was selected as the Jeune Espoir de la Cuisine Française Champérard. And there have been plenty more besides.
Chef Girardon’s cuisine is described as refined and simple, generous and honest — like the man himself. It focuses on the innate flavours of the ingredients themselves which often come from his own estate. His signature dishes include fresh lobster on the shell with vegetable spaghetti and a jus from pressed lobster heads, and pigeon from the “cold lands” of Isere with a crisped duck foie gras and truffle jus.