Thierry Motsch, Head Chef at L’Artisan, Raffles Doha, explains his culinary inspirations and aspirations for this unique venue.
You have worked with some of the best in the business, Michelin-starred culinary heroes from Alain Ducasse to Yannick Alleno. You also apprenticed with Chef Christian Moine. How will you translate all this top-level experience to the kitchens at L’Artisan while also stamping your own style and authority?
Working with Michelin-starred chefs gave me, early on, the will to succeed by discipline, motivation and the desire to push myself further, to be totally responsive and a team leader and those are certainly attributes that I hope I bring to L’Artisan. To achieve the standard of excellence that comes with a Michelin star, kitchens have to run like well-oiled machinery with everyone working as part of a tightly-knit team and totally in-sync with each other and that’s the type of operation we have at L’Artisan. But one thing all Michelin-star mentors encourage is signature creativity – those famous chefs have all developed their own styles, borne out of a love of their craft and a curiosity to push the boundaries further. That’s what I endeavour to achieve at L’Artisan and what I also wish to encourage within my team.
What is it about L’Artisan that made you want to come to Doha?
Initially, the Raffles brand, an iconic hotel opening, and the opportunity to experience the Middle East attracted me. But I was also thrilled by the freedom to create menus which could appeal to a culture new to me. L’Artisan is a celebration of modern dining for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It was a blank canvas. I introduced dishes which are delicately finished off at the table in front of diners, by adding a swirl of sauce or jus. I have combined classics, such as sole meuniere, with modern signatures, like veal tomahawk enlivened with a sweet orange harissa and a crispy olive pastilla. We’ve even refined breakfasts. Our breakfast menu is bursting with sweet and savoury temptations. Eggs, for instance, are served with asparagus soldiers and our French toast is enriched with apples, cinnamon and gingerbread ice-cream. Our name suggests what we are: artisanal culinary creatives who push artistic boundaries.
Still in your 30s, you have come a long way in a short time. To what do you attribute your early and ongoing success?
I have a strong desire for adventure and am endlessly curious. That is what led me to becoming a head chef on cruise ships, which brought its own rewards in that it changed my management style and opened my eyes to the importance of team well-being. It also taught me how to work within a very diverse team in terms of nationality spread – which again brings a lot of different culinary influences into play. That spirit of adventure also led me here to the Middle East, where I hope to pass on some knowledge but also learn some of the culinary delights of the region which could influence my future creations. From a very young age, I wanted to be a successful chef and that made me push to secure positions where I could learn from the best. My determination to keep on learning and growing continues until today.
What is your signature dish and what makes it popular?
Lamb and Foie Gras became my signature dish and emerged from my own cultural immersion in the Middle East, which loves lamb, and my national exposure to French and European tastes and aesthetics. The dish is a delicious taste pairing which combines culinary techniques I have learned over the years working with some of the best chefs in Europe with the tastes and requirements of the local clientele here in Doha. I suppose in a way this dish has come home to the region of its birth after all Foie Gras is a delicacy which originated in Ancient Egypt and the region’s love for lamb needs no further explanation from me. ✤