Pierre Gagnaire's Les Menus restaurant in Moscow to close

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 March, 2015, 6:21am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 March, 2015, 6:21am
AFP

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Michelin-starred French chef Pierre Gagnaire is to close his restaurant in a Moscow luxury hotel, a spokeswoman said this week, with Russian media blaming the economic crisis and the embargo on many Western ingredients for the decision.

"After five years of fruitful cooperation with Pierre Gagnaire, Les Menus restaurant is closing because of the agreement running out at the end of March," a spokeswoman for Lotte Hotel, which houses the restaurant, said.

Business daily Vedomosti suggested the reason for the closure was the difficulty in obtaining many Western food products due to the embargo imposed by Russia in retaliation for Western sanctions over the conflict in Ukraine.

The report also said the economic crisis, which has seen inflation soar as the rouble plunged in value was to blame - most luxury foods have to be imported to Russia.

Alexei Zimin, the editor of Afisha-Yeda food magazine told Vedomosti that haute cuisine failed to see growth in Moscow even during the years of economic stability.

"Now when business activity is falling, the demand is shrinking all the more," he said.

Zimin also pointed to Russia's embargo on food imports, saying restaurants such as Gagnaire's simply cannot find local equivalents of ingredients.

Gagnaire, one of France's superstar chiefs, is known for his innovative molecular cuisine, which he prefers to call modernist, created in collaboration with chemist Herve This. His Paris restaurant gained three Michelin stars in 1998 and has retained them ever since. He has 11 restaurants in cities across the world from Dubai to Las Vegas and including one at Hong Kong's Mandarin Oriental hotel.

He was recently voted Number 1 Michelin Star Chef by 512 other Michelin-ranked chefs in Le Chef magazine. Known for rarely writing down his recipes, Gagnaire has claimed inspiration from jazz musicians, including pianist Chick Corea.

He is among a number of top chefs to have opened restaurants in Russia during the years of economic prosperity fuelled by high oil prices.

French chef Helene Darroze, whose Restaurant Helen Darroze in Paris has gained one Michelin star and whose London restaurant in the prestigious Connaught Hotel has two stars, opened a Moscow restaurant in 2012.

Numerous attempts to transplant Michelin-starred chefs to Moscow have ended in failure in recent years

However, numerous attempts to transplant Michelin-starred chefs to Moscow have ended in failure in recent years.

Jeroboam restaurant, which opened in The Ritz-Carlton hotel under German chef Heinz Winkler closed in 2009. Koumir restaurant, a franchise of the Maison Troisgros restaurant in Roanne, central France, launched in 2006 but closed its doors after a year.

Lotte Hotel's spokeswoman said it would open a new restaurant with a "chef renowned worldwide" offering "modern European cuisine".

The economic crisis in Russia has led to rampant inflation, particularly of food prices, amid falling spending power.

It has already led to the closure of hundreds of dining rooms in Moscow and fuelled a trend for restaurants using high-quality fresh local produce.

Agence France-Presse