What happens when a Michelin-starred chef and a leading food magazine start plotting a perfume? Good taste receives a radical new dimension.
Jason Atherton (of Shanghai’s Table No 1, Mayfair’s Pollen Street Social and Fitzrovia’s Berners Tavern, to name but a few of his über-cool eateries) and luxury gastro mag Four have collaborated with avant-garde British scent label Boadicea the Victorious to create Four, Vétiver Impériale (£245 for 100ml).
Ambitious, perhaps. Yet Four co-founder and director Antioco Piras maintains that this foray into fragrance marks a natural progression. Smell is a formative experience – without it there is no meaningful taste. Moreover, exquisite dishes and perfumes have the finest ingredients in common. Four, Vétiver Impériale, however, is the antithesis of the usual gourmand riff, over-egged with ripe berries and pastry-sweet vanilla. This recipe is so beautifully balanced, you’d be hard pressed to identify a single foody note.
“The greatest concern was not to allow flavours to dominate,” says Piras, and Atherton was of the same mind. “I wanted a super-fresh cologne, not a powerful, headachy aroma,” he concurs. The suede-like freshness of vetiver proved the ideal base for a fragrance that would slice through the city smog as smooth as butter.
Selecting ingredients meant revisiting Atherton’s Lincolnshire childhood, when cut grass and the citrusy whiff of lemon tarts in the oven were the scent of home. Later, travels in the perfumed Middle East brought sandalwood, cedarwood and musks into the frame, as well as traditional spice markets and hessian sacks bulging with honeyed saffron. Perfumer Christian Provenzano stirred Tunisian neroli, Moroccan rose, Egyptian geranium and patchouli into the well-blended formula, then added pinches of black, white and pink pepper to spice up the mix.
“When food is perfect, it tastes and smells harmonious. It’s exactly the same process with cologne,” says Piras.
Is this the first in a course of Michelin-starred scents? “We do everything in fours at Four,” Piras divulges. It seems Four, Vétiver Impériale is just for starters…