Four Seasons George V, Paris Farm-to-table Cooking Class

One afternoon last July, I was wandering the gardens of Versailles, France, herb scissors in hand, searching for oregano. At Madame Elisabeth's Domaine, a rich estate given by King Louis XVI to his sister in 1783, his wife Tiffany was picking basil for pesto and their 3-year-old daughter Odella was kneading dough for pappardelle. All our efforts were guided by Simone Zanoni, chef at Le Georges, one of three restaurants at the Four Seasons Hotel George V in Paris.

The author's daughter, Odella, is in the garden.

Elise Kiniu/Courtesy of Four Seasons

We were guests of the hotel's Garden to Table program, the latest sustainability initiative spearheaded by Zanoni: The outdoor kitchen runs on solar power, all of the restaurant's food waste is composted, and used coffee grounds are used to grow oyster mushrooms, which has earned Le Georges a Michelin Green Star (in addition to its existing star for culinary excellence).

When she returned with the oregano, Zanoni was helping Odella make focaccia; he acceded to her insistence that she add more rosemary and thyme. Then the family walked in the garden, where they picked zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant, and cucumbers off the vine and chopped them. They also set out hand-painted Italian plates and blue-glass goblets on a wooden picnic table. Odella placed a blue-and-white striped napkin between napkin rings and, with Tiffin's help, mashed basil and peppermint in a mortar.

The author and her family prepare a meal with chef Simone Zanoni.

Elise Kiniu/Courtesy of Four Seasons

“It's similar to the feeling I had as a child, cooking lunch with my family,” says Zanoni, who grew up on a farm in Lombardy, Italy, and has worked under Gordon Ramsay in restaurants in London and Versailles. After Zanoni cooks lemon-flavored flounder fillets on the stove, we tuck into pappardelle with fish and pesto. When Odella declines Zanoni's suggestion to top the pasta with Parmesan, he feigns indignation. “You don't like cheese? Oh, Mommy!”

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While the adults sipped magnums of Philipponnat champagne, made especially for Le Georges, Zanoni elaborated on the philosophy behind the cuisine: “Luxury isn't about fancy chandeliers and stuffy service,” he said. “It should feel like an extension of your home.”

Vegetables grown in the Gardens of Versailles at the Four Seasons Hotel George V.

Courtesy of Four Seasons

And in a way, we felt like we were at home (but in a much more luxurious home). After such a sumptuous meal, there was only one thing left for us to do – wash the dishes.

This story appeared in our April 2024 issue. Travel + Leisure Under the heading “Let's Grow This Garden”

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