CHICAGO–Hyatt Hotels Corp. unveiled plans to add three hotels in international markets to its growing Andaz lifestyle brand.
The hotels will be located in Sanya Sunny Bay, China; Delhi, India; and Providenciales, Turks & Caicos.
With the four Andaz properties already open and others previously announced, the brand will have 11 hotels open by 2014.
Restaurant deal maker and real estate guru Steve Kamali announces that he's opening an office in London to help his clients—that include Tom Colicchio and Marcus Samuelsson—scope out restaurant spaces overseas. He notes that he already working with the owners of Quality Meats and Bagatelle on their "trans-Atlantic mission."
AFTER more than 30 years of civil war, invasion and occupation, Lebanon is prospering again, and the downtown area of Beirut, the capital, has risen from the rubble. Among more than 400 projects are a new waterfront area, parks, world-class hotels, high-end shops and restored monuments, churches, mosques and even the synagogue.
And to help the city reclaim its title as the Paris of the Middle East are more than 100 restaurants, some involving notable chefs and restaurateurs.
“We are bringing in world-renowned chefs to make Beirut the food capital of the Middle East,” said Joseph Asseily, chairman of Beirut Hospitality, a division of Solidere, the Lebanese company in charge of the downtown development.
Joël Robuchon, Yannick Alléno, Antoine Westermann, the Parisian baker Eric Kayser and perhaps even Jean-Georges Vongerichten are among the marquee names poised to draw tourists and cosmopolitan locals to the once devastated quarter.
But while some Lebanese might dare to try Mr. Robuchon’s eel with foie gras, when it comes to their own cuisine, tradition rules. You’ll find croissants seasoned with the spice blend zataar in bakeries, but that’s about as far as most chefs dare to innovate. A few restaurants are adding Asian or Mexican dishes to Lebanese menus, but generally it’s hands off when it comes to classics like hummus.
Lebneniyet, a Lebanese restaurant in the rebuilt area, prides itself on authenticity rather than creativity.
“The Lebanese like routine — it’s comforting after what they have gone through,” said Philippe Massoud, the chef and owner of Ilili in New York, who is from Beirut but who left during the civil war.
The dozens of cold and hot plates that come under the heading of meze — like hummus, tabbouleh, fattoush, eggplant purées, little grilled sausages, savory filled pastries, assorted kibbees and the like — are appreciated according to the finesse of the preparation.
“Nouvelle Lebanese does not exist,” said Kamal Mouzawak, a writer who became a food activist and now supports small farmers and regional cooking traditions with a farmers’ market and a restaurant in Beirut. “Food like you get at Ilili in New York would be shocking to the Lebanese — duck shawarma and things like that,” he said, referring to the popular sandwich made in Lebanon with shavings of spit-roasted beef or chicken. “Right now we are discovering our traditions. During the war and its aftermath we were too busy with other things.”
Restaurants serving Lebanese food are now starting to feature ragouts, often vegetable-based, that typically were served only at home. Comfort food, yet something new.
Advancing this trend there is Tawlet, which means “kitchen table” in Arabic. It’s the airy, informal restaurant that Mr. Mouzawak opened in a fringe area of Beirut last November, where home cooks from villages around the country prepare regional specialties. These often amount to discoveries for Beirut residents.
“It’s like a food museum every day,” Mr. Mouzawak said.
Every five weeks, reservations are at a premium when Joe Barza, a burly goateed chef who is an outspoken advocate of new Lebanese cuisine, cooks lunch at Tawlet. “Why does hummus have to be made with tahini?” he asked at lunch there a few weeks ago. “I see a big opportunity.”
His buffet included hummus made with broad beans instead of the usual chickpeas, enough of a departure. Kibbee was made with raw fish, not raw meat. And a dish called siyadieh, which usually combines fish with rice, was done with frik, a roasted green wheat that is cooked like a pilaf.
“We have the ingredients,” Mr. Barza said. “We just have to think about how we are using them.”
Lebanon’s larder is extremely rich. Almost anything, including American beef, can be imported, and even pork is sold, a rarity in an Arab country. In the countryside, farmers set up impromptu stands along the roads with gorgeous fresh favas, green beans, strawberries and artichokes. The produce at Souk el Tayeb, the farmers’ market that Mr. Mouzawak has organized on Saturday mornings in downtown Beirut, is nothing short of mouthwatering.
Fish restaurants like Chez Sami, which overlooks the sea just north of the city, display beautiful, mostly local catches that are simply fried or grilled. And yet the array has its limitations.
“Lebanon has some terrific ingredients they don’t use, like sardines,” said Mourad Mazouz, an owner of restaurants in London and Paris, who is on track to open in the newly developed area with a Moroccan-French-Lebanese menu. Both Mr. Robuchon and Mr. Alléno said they were going to try to use as many local ingredients as possible.
Unlike the restaurants, Lebanon’s wineries are trying some new approaches to build on a tradition that is said to go back 5,000 years.
Ixsir, a new winery near Byblos, north of Beirut, is selecting grapes from farmers in several regions to find the best terroirs, according to Étienne Debanné, the owner. Massaya, in the Bekaa Valley, is experimenting with tempranillo, the red grape of the Rioja region in Spain, and it is making a white wine with a blend that includes obeidi, the native grape said to be a precursor of the French clairette. The unusual white wines of Château Musar, perhaps the best-known Lebanese label, have always been made with native grapes.
“We’re more behind the scene when it comes to experimenting with our food than with our wine,” said Naji Saikali, the brand manager for Ixsir. “We hesitate to innovate. Perhaps it’s because we’re living with risk. But you can’t always postpone trying something new because you’re afraid something may happen to disrupt your life.”
Raymond Blanc has inspired chefs around the UK to start their own kitchen gardens for the freshest possible produce
When female diners visit the loo at the top London restaurant Pied à Terre, they will be in for a surprise: Marco Pierre White will be staring back at them through the window. And no, the Hell’s Kitchen chef hasn’t turned Peeping Tom — his photograph is stuck on the head of a scarecrow, to keep pigeons out of the two Michelin-starred chef Shane Osborn’s rooftop kitchen garden (the Knorr apron his mischievous finishing touch). “I’m going to change the picture every couple of months,” Osborn grins. “Michael Winner is next, with a pinny that says ‘Calm down dear’.”
He is very proud of his new roof garden, which he started sowing last autumn. This year he has added plants that he has propagated himself, from seeds grown on a windowsill. It’s small, measuring just six metres by four, yet it grows nearly 200 plants, including 15 different herbs and numerous edible flowers, from borage to caraway. There are also various vegetables and fruits, from Jerusalem artichokes to redcurrants, all of which Osborn uses in his innovative dishes.
“I started the garden initially to teach the guys how to grow things,” he says, “but I also wanted to plant a seed in people’s minds that we can all help the environment in some small way.” He has installed a wormery and a 650-litre composter — which is fed by food scraps from the kitchen — but hasn’t quite sorted out the water problem yet. At present it takes two chefs armed with buckets to keep the garden watered every day, and the only access is through a window. “But they love it: it’s a great place to hang out between service. And to be able to pick stuff this fresh, especially the flowers, which haven’t got a long shelf life, is quite something. There’s loads of empty roof space in London, so use it.”
Space isn’t something that worries your country house hotel. Following the lead of top French chefs such as Michel Bras and Alain Passard, who have elevated the kitchen garden to a new level, they have revived traditional potagers that once fed grand families and are now feeding us.
These kitchen gardens have become attractions in their own right, where head chefs team up with head gardeners to get the best out of their produce at hotels such as Mallory Court, near Leamington Spa, and the most ambitious of all, at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, in Oxfordshire, where Raymond Blanc and his brigade wander the gardens in their whites, snapping off broad beans and digging up artichokes under the watchful eye of drooling guests, stomachs rumbling at the prospect of a freshly picked dinner.
One of the most established is the organic kitchen garden at the celebrated Lancashire hotel and restaurant, Northcote Manor. “I think one of the best things is that it makes you more creative,” says the head chef, Lisa Allen. Thanks to the green fingers of her boss, the chef proprietor Nigel Haworth, Allen now gets as excited about vegetables and herbs as she does about meat and fish. “I’ve got so much more respect for produce now I’ve actually seen how things grow. Our focus at the moment is old English varieties: we’re trying eight different potatoes at the moment, each with their own flavour, and 15 different types of cress. It stimulates the mind. We’re always finding ways to use up all the produce,” she says.
Matthew Tomkinson, the head chef of the Michelin-starred Terrace restaurant at The Montagu Arms Hotel in Hampshire, agrees. “There’s nothing like a glut of courgettes to force you down the road of experimentation,” he says. “It has given us an opportunity to go back to a time when Nature dictates.”
This is the first year for the hotel restaurant’s kitchen garden, developed on land adjacent to the property that was bought last year. “It was a jungle, and a great leveller. I’ll never forget the sight of our general manager pulling down trees, and our chefs ripping up roots.”
There are now herbs galore (lemon verbena is a current favourite), plus a polytunnel filled with strawberries, tomatoes and other vegetables, an asparagus bed, and beds each for runner beans and red fruits. “Chefs used to turn their noses up at produce if it was misshapen or dirty; now I can’t keep ours out of the garden,” says Tomkinson.
A bowl of homegrown produce at reception encourages guests to take an interest in the garden, which is overlooked by the restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling windows. The installation of hen houses has proven so popular that there has been a noticeable decline in chicken orders at dinner: “Sometimes there are up to six couples standing here watching us feed them — yes, we are all beginning to reconnect with Nature in some way.”
You could argue that Matthew Owsley-Brown has gone native. The Norfolk-based chef sold his popular fish restaurant in Burnham Market last year to create a catering company with a difference: one that grows and rears its own produce for the business. In addition to planting fruit, vegetables and herbs at their new five-acre home in the village of West Bilney, near Swaffham, the Owsley-Brown family are now the proud owners of two Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs. “This first year has been a bit of an experiment. We’ve been finding our inner hippy,” he laughs.
Owsley-Brown has already constructed a commercial kitchen in one of the outbuildings and is planning a series of pop-up restaurants in the sunny courtyard from August, alerting potential diners of the dates via Facebook and Twitter.
The polytunnels, donated by a local farmer, are now packed with different Mediterranean vegetables, while out on the plot are an array of vegetables and fruits. “Yes, you make mistakes,” Owsley-Brown says, “but it’s the only way to learn. You’ve just got to do it.”
What to Serve With the World Cup
Cape Town's burgeoning restaurant scene reflects city's many cultures
People come to Cape Town for its fine beaches and waterfront—they have since the 1600s, when the Dutch established it as a watering stopover for ships trading with the East. They come for the sports: The city will hold eight World Cup matches this June. They come for the history, to see Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela spent most of his imprisonment.
But few visitors come for the food.
Daniela Bonanno, who works here for New York-based custom-vacation company Absolute Travel, thinks that may change. A spurt of high-caliber restaurants has transformed the dining scene, she says. Where the top places once offered French cooking, often heavy and meat-based, now chefs are training abroad, offering a wide variety of international influences while keeping ingredients local.
As in New York, Vancouver and London, the dining landscape represents a confetti of global cuisines reflecting the many cultures of Cape Town's almost three million people. Given the oceanfront setting, seafood plays a big role in menus, as do local meats such as ostrich, karoo lamb and springbok, an antelope variety that's the national animal. And, peri-peri, a piquant red chili, is also common as a side sauce or flavor addition.
Peak tourist season is during South Africa's summer from November through March, and although temperatures usually don't exceed the mid-80s, there can be some exceptionally hot days, especially in January. The slow season is the winter months of May through August. The average daytime temperature is mild at around 55 degrees, but July and August are the height of rainy season where many days can be wet and windy. Cape Town doesn't get big crowds during September, October, March and April, and the sunny days with temperatures in the 60s make these ideal visiting months.
Several weeks ago—Cape Town's fall—my husband and I tried five restaurants, many of them opened in the past few years, that Capetonians said would give us an idea of their hometown's cuisine.
This place in the Camps Bay area, a chic South Beach equivalent full of trendy eateries and bars, got its start as a fish store in Johannesburg. "Customers began asking if the store could cook the fish they picked," says owner Skippy Shaked. Diners still get to select their fish from a large case—usually including several prawn types such as the prized tiger, crayfish, the South African version of lobster, and filets of the codlike kinglip and Cape salmon from the restaurant's own fisheries. The fish is grilled only with a touch of fish spice, and served with sauces including peri-peri and sweet chili apricot on a bed of fries and Asian style stir-fried vegetables. Make sure to see the sunset.
Gordon Ramsay, the feisty task-master of reality-television show Hell's Kitchen, runs this year-old spot at the One&Only hotel. Each of the seven restaurants of this name around the world has a distinct menu—including, in Cape Town, Namibian oysters, Mozambican langoustines and grilled eland, another South African antelope. The towering space also has an open pastry kitchen turning out desserts such as malva pudding, a kind of caramelized cake dating back to the days of Dutch rule. The 5,000-bottle cellar claims to be one of the largest in the country—heavy on South African wines, of course.
After a decade in Australia's Blue Mountains, Cyrillia Deslandes returned home to South Africa and brought along her husband, Laurent, from France's Loire Valley, as chef. In late 2007, the duo opened this restaurant. Mr. Deslandes applies French techniques to local ingredients. While some dishes, like the braised farm pig trotter, are always available, a half-dozen different starters and four entrees are added each day, usually new recipes. The white mussels in a beurre-blanc sauce from Saldanha Bay on South Africa's west coast are so meaty they could be mistaken for scallops. A seared steak comes from a farm in the north, and a Provençal fish soup is rich with chunks of local crustaceans. Mr. Deslandes also regularly gives springbok filet, veal shoulder and karoo lamb stew a French treatment.
In the 19th century, Indians were brought to South Africa to work as indentured servants, and today they're one of the country's prominent ethnic groups. There are four Bukhara restaurants throughout South Africa; we visited the original in Cape Town's Central Business District, which has a long glass-walled kitchen and offers all the standard North Indian dishes. Many Indian eateries don't do beef justice since it's forbidden in Hinduism, but here the beef pudina marinated in mint uses South African beef, often likened in quality to the highly regarded Argentine meat. A tandoori chicken was free of the pasty orange flavor too often common in this dish.
THE GRAND CAFE & BEACH-
In an airy converted beachfront warehouse overlooking Table Bay, the restaurant's seating spills out onto a large terrace and the beach itself. A chic set packs it every night. Owner Sue Main is a globetrotter and her menu reflects that: The prawn tempura is via Japan, the 3-foot-long crispy pizzas topped with thin slices of local parma ham are inspired by Italy, Steak béarnaise is from Paris, and the Waldorf salad comes from the States. As for the crayfish sandwich—Cape Town's answer to the New England lobster roll—Ms. Main cuts the meat into small pieces (it's almost always served whole), mixes it with homemade mayonnaise and tucks it into a soft bun.
Flying through Johannesburg is the only way to reach Cape Town from the U.S. without a stopover in Europe. Daily nonstop flights to Johannesburg include South African Airways from New York's JFK (the return flight stops in Dakar) and Delta Air Lines from Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta. From Johannesburg, there's frequent service to Cape Town; the flight lasts about two hours.
Where to Stay:
One&Only Cape Town—This 131-room, supremely luxurious hotel with a contemporary style opened last year just off the waterfront. Rates per night start at 6,000 rand ($815). www.oneandonlyresorts.com Cape Grace—The 120-room grand dame of Cape Town's luxury accommodations, on the waterfront and decorated in a traditional Cape Malay style, was refashioned in December 2008. Rates start at $550. www.capegrace.com . De Waterkant Village—Amid cobblestone streets in a historic neighborhood between the waterfront and center area, this collection of self-service cottages, apartments and bed and breakfast style rooms has affordable, well-appointed accommodations. www.dewaterkant.com . Rates start at 950 rand.
The Five Restaurants: Details
Codfather, 37 The Drive, Camps Bay, 021-438-0782, about $50 a person. The Grand Café & Beach, Haul Road, off Beach Road, Granger Bay, www.thegrand.co.za, 021-425-0551, about $35 a person with a glass of wine. Maze, One&Only Cape Town, Dock Road, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, 021-431-5222, about $40 a person with a glass of wine. Bizerca Bistro, Jetty Street, Foreshore, www.bizerca.com, 021-418-0001, about $35 for two-course meal with a glass of wine. Bukhara, 33 Church Street, www.bukhara.com, 021-424-0000, about $30 a person.
— Shivani Vora is a writer based in New York.
NEW YORK--Yum Brands Inc.'s KFC brand is plotting a deeper move into France, hoping that the Colonel's recipe will strike the taste of a broader swath of French consumers.
This week, KFC launched its first round of national television advertisements in France as it gets set to open its 100th store there, giving it the scale needed for a broad marketing push. KFC plans to have 300 stores in France by 2015, and sees a possible tenfold increase over time.
"One day I'd like to have over 1,000 stores here, though we're going to take it 100 by 100" at a time, Ivan Schofield, general manager of KFC France, said in an interview.
Yum, the world's largest restaurant operator with more than 37,000 locations, is one of the largest retail developers in the world, a key strategy underpinning its growth. With the U.S. fast-food market mature, China has become by far Yum's most crucial growth market, and the company is also starting a major expansion in India to open 1,000 stores.
Even though these two fast-growing markets dwarf France in terms of population, Yum executives see KFC's France business as an anchor for what could be a broader expansion in continental Europe. KFC's European footprint is under 800 restaurants, lagging behind burger chain McDonald's Corp., with about 5,600.
"It's their most important market in Europe," Stifel Nicolaus restaurant analyst Steve West said. "Obviously, China's the most important market, but there's a lot of growth opportunity for Yum in France."
Fast-food competition remains less intense in France, where McDonald's and local operator Quick dominate the market.
McDonald's, which was seen as an American invasion when the first store opened in 1979, worked hard to woo French diners by tailoring its menu to local tastes. The company sells beer as well as soft drinks, and it recently introduced a version of the macaroon, a national culinary institution. Last year, it opened a restaurant in the food court of the Carrousel du Louvre, the shopping center under the famous Parisian museum, raising some eyebrows. The chain has grown to about 1,100 stores in France.
Other American companies have had less success or moved more cautiously. Burger KingStarbucks Inc., the U.S. coffee chain, opened its first outlet in France in 2004 and today has about 50 locations—a number dwarfed by its 650 in the U.K.
In addition to relatively tame competition, France has another major appeal: It is one of the largest dining-out markets in Europe. Many French consumers still frequent locally owned, corner restaurants, but fast food has made headway as diners cut their lunchtime down to 30 minutes or so, Mr. Schofield said. France's fast-food customers also tend to prefer full meals with desserts, rather than just sandwiches, which bring the average sale to between €6 and €8 (about $8 to $10.50) at KFC.
As a result, KFCs in France make more money than anywhere else in the world. Stores on average reach sales of $4 million a year, about three times that of the average KFC elsewhere in the world.
KFC initially got off to a meek start in France. Its former parent PepsiCo Inc. opened just seven locations 1992 before abandoning the effort to expand elsewhere.
Yum came back to France in 2001, as McDonald's started investing in its stores there. KFC found itself an underdog, and positioned itself as a challenger brand. KFC tailored its menu to local preferences, introducing items like the Boxmaster, chicken and other fillings wrapped in a tortilla, and Brazer, a grilled line of products.
Yum has invested more than $300 million in its France business since 2001, and is now profitable, although Mr. Schofield wouldn't say when it tilted into the black. Though Yum owns and runs most of the stores here, by 2015 it wants to shift more of the development burden to franchisees. By that time, Yum thinks annual profits in France will reach $100 million. Corp., which challenges McDonald's in many global markets, withdrew from France in 1997. It said at the time that its 39 restaurants didn't give it a strong enough presence and that it wasn't sufficiently profitable.
—By PAUL ZIOBRO: Javier Espinoza in London contributed to this article.
Considered one of the best chefs in the world, Léa Linster experimented with the humble potato on a recent Monday afternoon at her one-Michelin-star restaurant in the Luxembourg town of Frisange. She intently examined the thinly sliced potatoes, looking for clues about their starchiness. "People underestimate how difficult it is to achieve the perfect combination of crispy and chewy," she says.
A favorite vegetable in Luxembourg, the potato appears in many forms in Ms. Linster's home-cooking eatery called the Kaschthaus. At her signature Michelin-starred Restaurant Léa Linster, the potato incarnates in more noble ways fitting for a French gourmet. In fact, the dish that won Ms. Linster the Bocuse d' Or prize in 1989 features the tuber and remains on Ms. Linster's menu to this day: a saddle of lamb wrapped in a crisp, wafer-thin potato pancake. Ms. Linster browns the potato pancake on one side before she wraps it around lightly breaded lamb and bakes the duo.
At her two restaurants, Ms. Linster has long made a showcase of her native Luxembourg cuisine, which includes specialties such as flour dumplings called kniddelen and bouneschlupp, a green bean roux-based stew garnished with pork sausage.
Now, some 20 years after Ms. Linster became the first and only woman to win the coveted Bocuse d' Or prize, she has become a formal ambassador of Luxembourg's cuisine. This year, for the first time, Ms. Linster will officially represent Luxembourg abroad at the ITB Berlin, the world's largest tourism trade fair from March 10-12. She will prepare Luxembourg dishes at the country's stand at the fair, which draws more than 170,000 visitors.
The Grand Duchy's tourism authorities hope to position the country as a culinary destination, given that Luxembourg has more Michelin stars per capita than any other country in the world. Starred restaurants include Manoir Kasselslay, known for the creative use of regional products and its setting inside a natural reserve; Toit pour Toi, with its eclectic interpretation of French gourmet cuisine; and Restaurant Yves Radelet, also focused on regional ingredients, including some organic products.
For Holger Gettmann, a restaurant critic and the publisher of the Guide Orange food resource, Ms. Linster's official appearance is long overdue. "Ms. Linster embodies Luxembourg's charm and peculiarities. You can see it when she's on German television. She's highly skilled and recognized for her experience," he says. Ms. Linster appears frequently as a guest chef on channel ZDF's cooking shows "Lanz kocht" and "Küchenschlacht."
Ms. Linster, 55 years old, has trained alongside the world's best chefs, including Paul Bocuse, Joël Robuchon and Fredy Girardet. Yet, she hasn't let go of her down-to-earth principles that manifest in her personal style and cooking. She says she prefers dishes without overbearing sauces, such as scallops grilled with perfect brown trim that are tossed in a salad of endive and artichoke.
She strives to let individual ingredients speak for themselves and retain their original character, describing molecular cuisine as a trend to which she refuses to adapt. "If you change food too much, you kill the soul of it," Ms. Linster says.
Her choice of décor and the way she runs her kitchen speaks to her philosophy as well. She offers guests a sleek environment that isn't pretentious, and she says she avoids waste -- not an easy feat for a gourmet.
While sticking to her principles, Ms. Linster is in the process of expanding and transforming her culinary empire, which includes her two restaurants in Luxembourg, her media brand (TV appearances and a food column in the German women's magazine Brigitte), and her publishing efforts, which include six cookbooks. She is looking for a partner to open a restaurant in Manhattan, where she has an Upper East Side home, and is remodeling her 60-seat signature restaurant.
As part of the transformation, Ms. Linster has increased her marketing efforts. Years ago she wouldn't have been so bold, she says, but now she has draped a billboard-style photo of her face on the facade of her restaurant in Frisange, a village of several thousand people that is a 20-minute drive from the city of Luxembourg. Ms. Linster laughed with a hint of irony as she commented about the oversized photo that contrasts starkly with the rural environment. "It's big enough so that people won't actually take it seriously," she says.
Ms. Linster grew up playing hostess at the family's restaurant in Frisange. She often helped her parents cook and serve. As a 16-year-old girl, the first meal she ever prepared for guests was chicken in a Riesling sauce with a prune pie.
Ms. Linster began studying law but abruptly ended her time at the university when her father fell ill nearly three decades ago. She says she acquired her good taste and her intuition for cooking from her father, who was also a chef. "He had the palette of a God," she says, adding he had a knack for refining Luxembourg specialties with French touches.
Connoisseurs will point out what gives Luxembourg's cooking its own character: Fresh-water delights, such as frog legs and pike, Riesling sauces on chicken or fish and a good dose of garlic to honor the country's large number of Italian residents who immigrated more than a century ago, as well as Portuguese new arrivals.
Don't be mistaken. Although Luxembourg cuisine resembles potato-rich German cooking, with a dab of French finesse, it is more than a mélange. Maximilian von Hochberg, the general manager of the Hotel Sofitel Luxembourg Europe, says, "The French are attracted to Luxembourg because of its continental touch, while Germans appreciate the French overtones."
At the same time, the business crowd is increasingly an Anglo-Saxon troupe, says Mr. von Hochberg. Luxembourg is expanding its niche from a hub for the banking sector and European Union institutions to a center for information technology. Skype, the Internet-telephony company that was acquired by eBay, and the e-retailer Amazon.com both have their European headquarters here.
For business lunch, diners typically seek out restaurants in the Kirchberg district, home to the European Court of Justice and the European Investment Bank. Those interested in nightlife and cozier, smaller restaurants explore the cobble-stoned alleyways of the Grund area of Luxembourg's ancient city center, which holds the distinction of Unesco World Heritage Site for its Vauban fortifications.
This expansion as a haven for high technology (and low taxes) bodes well for restaurateurs such as Ms. Linster. Back at her signature restaurant, Luxembourg's patron chef continued working on her potatoes, which she dramatically drizzled with sea salt. As she performed her magic, Ms. Linster mused about people and her own journey from girl hostess to celebrated chef.
She says the way people evolve is more important than first impressions: "I love to give people a chance. I love it even more when they know how to take it."
—Rhea Wessel is a writer based in Kronberg, Germany.
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