The launch of ‘Nagano Reception’ in Paris, France, blending ingredients from Nagano and molecular gastronomy
Paris, France, will soon welcome the 2024 Summer Olympics and will become the target of many tourists across the world. In this city that holds natural landscapes, culture, traditions and gastronomy as well as local ingredients, in high regards, the “Nagano reception” was held on November 3rd, 2023. This event invited media, travel agents, importers and stakeholders of the Japanese food industry in France. Its aim was to promote Nagano prefecture by highlighting its assets, while recognising the sensitivities and priorities of the French people, which are so different from those of the Japanese.

A few months ago, we asked the physico-chemical chef Raphaël Hautmont to help us with a project to highlight the local ingredients of Nagano Prefecture. He is a specialist in molecular gastronomy (a physico-chemical approach to cooking), a field for which France is well known. M. Hautmont himself visited the whole prefecture, where he was able to learn more about the ingredients, the landscapes and their history by being in direct contact with them.
Firstly, various ingredients were introduced to M. Hautmont : miso, proud representative of the local ingredients of Nagano Prefecture, wasabi, grown thanks to the crystal-clear water that flows down from the Japanese Alps, and finally the agar-agar, a surprising local ingredient of Nagano, the result of its fresh climate.
This visit allowed him to study the molecular composition of the ingredients and gather information at a physical level to make the most of the quality of the ingredients at a chemical level.
During the Nagano Reception, the results of these studies were shared and put into practice through a sumptuous menu.
The Reception was held at the “Le Roch Hotel & Spa”, a five-star hotel in the Opéra neighboorhood of Paris. The guests were first welcomed with aperitive drinks, two cocktails made using saké from Nagano.
Cocktails made from saké
・Kuromatsu Saké + Green Apple (Saint Germain)+ Lemon + Lychee juice
・Shirokitenryu Saké +Citadelle Gin + Privet flower syrup + Apple juice with pulp
The Governor of Nagano, Shuichi Abe, opened the reception with a passionate speech about the internationalisation of Nagano Prefecture and its exchanges with France, a country that, like Nagano, values its local ingredients and traditions. The Governor shared his enthusiasm for developing these exchanges in various fields, such as gastronomy, manufacturing and tourism.
Then the main event of the evening began : the chef Raphaël Hautmont and the hotel’s chef, Serge Jouanin, prepared a menu together, with 5 more than surprising dishes.
Menu showcased during the Reception
Oysters, Saké Shiroki Tenryu, green apple and lychee
Iodised oysters with a mineral flavour, enhanced by lychee juice, jellified with Nagano agar-agar.
Scallops, Saké Kuromatsu, coffee, Nagano miso and mushrooms
The delicate aroma of the seared scallops and the powerful flavour of the miso create a delicious combination, caramelising the miso and releasing a lovely umami and amino acids. The coffee flavour adds a hint of bitterness.
Foie gras, soy, truffles et célery
Semi-cooked foie gras and truffles sprinkled with soy sauce pearls jellified with Nagano agar-agar.
Wasabi Chocolate Mousse and Nagano Agar-agar
The richness of the chocolate and the bitterness of the cocoa are delicately enhanced by the Nagano agar-agar, which adds a certain lightness. A small amount of powdered wasabi and freshly grated wasabi, both from Nagano, are added to this preparation, and the fresh green notes of the wasabi enhance the mousse considerably.
Improvised liquid nitrogen ice cream with white miso
Prepare an egg cream base, then mix it with some Nagano white miso (lightly filtered miso gives a better texture in the mouth). Gradually add liquid nitrogen and you’ve got “freshly made miso ice cream”.
The chef Raphaël Hautmont showcased some of his studies’ results, like how the miso’s fermentation and umami initiate a Maillard reaction (a reaction in which the amino acids and sugars flow out as the ingredients are heated) on low temperature on the scallops. This allows strong flavors to emerge, resembling the roasted taste of coffee, and adds finesse to the dish due to its subtle acidity.
Another example would be the agar-agar which is said to act molecularly to improve cholesterol levels and has anticancer properties.
After the chef’s presentation, the guests tried the dishes showcased and all were surprised by these interesting mixes and their pairings.
The reception went in a friendly and warm atmosphere. It ended by a group picture with the Governor Abe, surrounded by the guests and the staff.
One of the guest shared their perception of the evening : “I got to learn a lot on Nagano’s products and the Nagano Prefecture. This scientific approach to cooking and ingredients, based on molecular gastronomy, is now considered in France as “the future of ecology”, a very important matter. This collaboration was a great surprise and a very interesting concept.”. A place of cultural exchange like never seen before, that is what was this “Nagano Reception.”
The Chef Raphaël Hautmont ended his presentation with these words ; “In every ingredient, there is an infinity of possibilities. I invite you to explore them not only with Japanese cuisine but to add them to your French recipes.”. In the same way, Nagano prefecture, its 4 colorful seasons, its rich landscapes with difficult conditions, where were established its culture and its tradition, wishes to convey its shine with strength, while acknowledging all the new opinions brought to them.

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