Culinary Adventures at the Four Seasons Hotel George V
It’s a late March afternoon in Paris and Simone Zanoni is on a tear. The chef at the Four Seasons Hotel George V’s Le George restaurant grew up in Italy but spent eight years at Gordon Ramsay in London, and he speaks English like a cockney footballer. Barking orders in a mixture of English, Italian and French to the staff in his hot kitchen, Zanoni grabs the ingredients for pasta making, then moves quickly and expertly to combine the flour, eggs and water, and guide the mixture through a professional pasta machine. Within minutes he has hand-formed ravioli, which he tosses in a pan with butter and some seasoning. A calm descends on the tight space. “This is the essence of my approach to food,” he says to writers gathered to watch him work—and taste the results. “Pure, simple flavors presented without pretension.”
Offering such straightforward food in the capital of sophisticated cuisine was a gamble, but Zanoni won the group over at first bite. The pasta was al dente but yielding, the ricotta filling creamy, the butter and egg flavors magnificently fresh. At dinner at Le George that evening, the parade of plates was delicious, but the memory of the ravioli remained.
Le George, and Zanoni’s mastery, is just one of three exceptional culinary experiences available at the George V today. Zanoni became chef of Le George in September 2016 and when Michelin announced its stars in February, the restaurant had already earned one. L’Orangerie, which opened across the courtyard in May 2016, has also already earned its first star. And Le Cinq, the hotel’s signature restaurant, retained the third Michelin star it won last year for 2017, making George V the first hotel in France to house three Michelin-awarded restaurants.
Le Cinq is headed up by Christian Le Squer, who has been executive chef of the George V since October 2014. Everything from the dining room’s Louis XIV furniture to its exquisite floral arrangements to, most notably, its delicate food speaks to the best traditions of French cuisine while simultaneously feeling modern and fresh. Legendary sommelier Eric Beaumard is director of the restaurant and overseas the hotel’s 50,000-bottle wine cellars.
Le George focuses on shared plates and Mediterranean flavors. The restaurant appears to be a magnet for models, and the parade of towering couples that entered on a recent spring evening were almost as much fun to watch as the food was to eat.
David Bizet, chef of L’Orangerie, spent 17 years at Le Cinq. His seasonal menu walks an exciting line between savory and sweet: There are vegetable sherbets and butter so sweet it could be a dessert. His food is also exceptionally beautiful. One dessert, the “meringue flower,” is created using dozens of meringue “petals,” each individually inserted into ice cream to create a flower that opens as the ice cream melts.