A date in a strip club. This isnt something that happens very often. But at least once in life one should throw prejudice aside and head out for a nice dinner spiced up by erotic dancing.
Perhaps I was naive in expecting there would be just cynical, tasteless, eccentric men and women, the dregs of society, in any strip club anywhere in the world. It turned out I was ill prepared for Oh La La!
"Youve never visited a strip club before? Thats a pity!" exclaimed the clubs owner, Jean-Michel. Oh La La! is a nice, clean, well-rounded club with a very airy feeling and a variety of music types, from oldies to techno. All the dancers are friendly and seem happy to be there: The place has a cordial French feel to it, and the ladies are more pleasant than pushy.
"You wont be hassled by the ladies as much as at the other clubs," explained Jean-Michel.
Meanwhile, I was busy doing my own research checking out the kitchen, of course. If you thought the food in Oh La La! is all about French nouvelle cuisine, with its tiny portions and crazy ingredients, think again. Not only does this place have an extensive menu, but it also has a lot of unique dishes that sound appealing.
The food is excellent and Jean-Michel readily explains why. "Two things take center stage here: beautiful women and excellent food. But the most difficult thing for me was to make the service and atmosphere complement the cuisine. It may be a French cliche, but Oh La La! is meant to provide wonderful treats that can make diners feel more at home here than anywhere else."
What symbolizes true romance for you?
Its definitely not breakfast in bed, which would be a too obvious and banal answer for me. True romantics should surprise women using their own, more original and less traditional "methods" than those stale cliches like breakfast in bed or scarlet roses that dont really excite women anymore. Quite frankly, Im sure that if you dont like to eat, you dont like to make love. Indeed, people who are not excited about food are bad lovers and, consequently, girls who are permanently on a diet cant be sensual lovers either.
Dont you think that you demand too much of food?
I dont think so. In my book, food is always meant to be appealing and attractive. However, it seems to me its really essential that people first of all be able to appreciate food from a sensory level and not so much try to understand it on an intellectual level. From my experience with cooks in the restaurant business, I see there are a lot of ways to make food taste good and appealing without giving up on the presentation of this or that dish. By the way, weve created a few special sexy dishes for Valentines Day, including Carpaccio Casanova, a mix of beef carpaccio, salmon carpaccio and red and black caviar with olive oil, which has immediately become a bestseller at Oh La La! This healthy dish is full of protein. The other high-protein dish is delicious oyster with marinated ginger.
Is it possible, in your opinion, to teach a man or a woman to enjoy food?
Yes, of course. Thats what Bernard Shaw described in "Pygmalion." Its very interesting to bring a girl to a good restaurant, help her choose the meal, tell her what is what Food really makes an entry to all your senses. You need to enjoy everything: life, light, love and finally food. The caring, energy and the creativity that each person brings to the food are the most important things.
What would be the three must-have qualities a good chef should possess?
Curiosity, enthusiasm and the ability to put questions to himself/herself. I can tell you that the dish a chef cooks is not only the reflection of his or her personality, but his attitude to life too. In the kitchen, everything depends on the chefs mood, on his creative energy, on his sense of humor and vision of life. This profession demands bringing together a lot of different interests and skills.
In your business, what are you most proud of?
Im proud of all that has come together personally and professionally in Moscow. Im glad to be able to run a business where people like to work and where people can come in to relax and enjoy good company with one another. Having a club that I feel really good about, great friends, reliable partners and an opportunity to build your own business. Having my work develop and mature over the years and having work become more and more interesting and fun.