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

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

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


One afternoon last July, I wandered through a garden in Versailles, France, herb shears in hand, in search of oregano. Elsewhere in the Domaine de Madame Élisabeth — a lush estate that Louis XVI gave to his younger sister in 1783 — my wife, Tiffan, picked basil for pesto while our three-year-old daughter, Odella, cranked dough into pappardelle. All of our efforts were guided by Simone Zanoni, the chef at Le George, one of three restaurants at the Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris.

The author’s daughter, Odella, in the garden.

Elise Quiniou/Courtesy of Four Seasons

We were guests of the hotel’s garden-to-table program, the latest sustainability effort led by Zanoni. The outdoor kitchen is solar-powered, all of the restaurant’s food waste is composted, and spent coffee grounds are used to grow oyster mushrooms — earning Le George a Michelin Green Star (in addition to its existing star for culinary excellence).

When I returned with the oregano, I found Zanoni helping Odella make focaccia. He bowed to her insistence on adding more rosemary and thyme. Then as a family, we walked through the garden, plucking zucchini, tomatoes, eggplants, and cucumbers off the vine before chopping them up. We also set the wooden picnic table with hand-painted Italian plates and azure glass goblets. Odella tucked blue-and-white-striped napkins into napkin rings before wielding a pestle to crush basil and some peppermint in a mortar, with assistance from Tiffan. 

The author and family preparing a meal with chef Simone Zanoni.

Elise Quiniou/Courtesy of Four Seasons

“It’s like the feeling I had as a child making lunch with my family,” said Zanoni, who grew up on a farm in Lombardy, Italy, and has worked under Gordon Ramsay at his London and Versailles restaurants. After Zanoni prepared a lemony fillet of sole on the stovetop, we dug in to the fish and the pappardelle with pesto. When Odella declined Zanoni’s offer of parmesan topping for the pasta, he feigned outrage: “You don’t like the cheese? Mamma mia!” 

Related: An Insider’s Guide to Paris — Luxury Hotels, Vintage Shops, and the City’s Best Restaurants

As the adults sipped from a magnum of Philipponnat champagne made exclusively for Le George, Zanoni told us more about the philosophy behind his cooking. “Luxury is not a fancy chandelier or stiff service,” he said. “It should feel like an extension of your house.”

Vegetables grown at Four Seasons Hotel George V’s Versaille garden.

Courtesy of Four Seasons

And in a way, it did feel like we were at home (albeit a far more luxurious one). After such an extravagant meal, there was only one thing left for us to do: the dishes.

A version of this story first appeared in the April 2024 issue of Travel + Leisure under the headline “Make This Garden Grow.”



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