Caroline Esch is certainly not lacking in courage. She was but 24 when she opened her restaurant “Pavillon Eden Rose” in Kayl, near Esch-sur-Alzette, in June 2019. In exactly that steal pavilion in which Lea Linster previously resided for nine years with her sophisticated bistro “Pavillon Madeleine.” What makes the whole thing even more daring: this restaurant is to be the first in Luxembourg that is completely gluten free.
It was a bold move. When Caroline Esch received the approval from the commune for her steal pavilion in
Park Ouerbett, she had neither a firm nor a team nor investors to back her. “Opening a restaurant as a 24-year-old in Luxembourg was very stressful. I don’t want to have to repeat that,” she says and looks towards the playground in the park. She used the pandemic-induced pause to further improve her concept: “It’s a new beginning.” With her logo of a rose, but especially with new motivation and new ideas.
Caroline Esch, daughter of a Luxembourgish mother and a French father, is at home in the region. When she was 13, she realized she could not stomach the gluten found in normal flour anymore. “I developed a really strong intolerance. And my parents found it difficult to cook for me.” She was “very frustrated not to be able to eat what other people could.” Back then, she already dreamed of being a chef: “And this frustration really gave me the appetite to show that you can make really good food without gluten.”
“The important thing is to please the guests. And I want to show that a restaurant also works without gluten.”
As a 14-year-old, she started in the school of hotel management EHTL in Diekirch, worked in various starred kitchens at the Auberge de l’Ill and the Mosconi in Luxembourg, and then studied at the Institute Paul Bocuse “Arts Culinaires et Management de le Restauration” and worked with Cyril Molard in Ma Langue Sourit. Caroline Esch gratefully remembers having had amazing and really respectful chefs, “but seeing a woman in the kitchen is not always welcomed,” she adds. Only one thing helps to counter all that macho behaviour at the stove: “You can’t let anything go through.”
It took her a while to decide whether she would rather be a cook or patissière (“Those are two completely different worlds”) – she decided for the patisserie. After all, gluten is kind of irrelevant for the “normal” kitchen; where it starts to get difficult is when flour is involved. Now, she bakes more than just her own bread. She uses homemade flour mixes – “There are a few gluten-free flour mixes available on the market but not all of them are any good” – made from rice, potatoes, or sweetcorn, but also tapioca (manioc) or chestnuts. She uses psyllium, the seeds husks of plantain, to bind the moisture in the dough.
The goal of Caroline Esch and her partner Valèrien Prade is that their guests don’t even notice that they’re eating gluten-free food. That’s why, at the moment, you won’t find a Bouchée à la Reine on the menu. “Puff pastry just doesn’t work yet.” Around half of their guests have no problem with gluten but visit on account of the excellent taste.
The “Pavillon Eden Rose” is not an easy feat for the young chef. The clients who come for lunch and those at dinner are very different – and in between there is a wholly different client base in the afternoon, consisting of parents at the playground. According to the commune regulations in Kayl, they need to be served coffee, tea, pastries, and ice cream. The time after COVID-19 will begin with two menus: a three-course lunch menu with appetizer for 29 euros and a five-course evening menu for 59 euros.
It all looks very chic, but she is not yet reaching for the stars: “That does not correspond with the values we learned at school. The important thing is to please the guests. And I want to show that a restaurant also works without gluten.” So, no, stars are not her goal. She adds: “But everybody dreams of them.”
PAVILLON EDEN ROSE
30, Rue du Moulin — L-3660 Kayl
Tel. +352 / 26 56 00 35