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Francis Kurkdjian Talks Perfumery, Cooking

For Francis Kurkdjian, the key to his gourmet cooking hobby is simple recipes with quality — often homegrown — ingredients.

Francis Kurkdjian has a lot on his plate — but that hasn’t stopped him from cooking up more.

During the pandemic, Kurkdjian turned his focus to his new rooftop garden, where he grows fresh produce and herbs to supply his gourmet cooking habit. “Everything I grow has a smell or can be eaten,” Kurkdjian said of the garden, “Right now, I have basil, oregano, thyme and sage, limes, and I will have grapes,” he said.

Kurkdjian has also kept busy with his fragrance business. He launched three new scents in his Cologne Forte collection last month, adding to the offering of his LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton-owned maison. Kurkdjian, who has myriad interests outside of perfumery — he was a ballet dancer earlier in life — said he views his perfuming and gardening crafts separately from one another.

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“The main difference between perfume and food is that, I believe the best perfume is when the ingredients disappear and what remains is emotion,” Kurkdjian said. “Whereas, when you are cooking, the ingredients are still there in some way, like the red color of a tomato soup. But if I blend mandarin with sandalwood, you’re just left with emotion.”

His culinary philosophy focuses more on ingredient quality than recipe development, and he aims to use the best ingredients possible, homegrown or otherwise. “My style isn’t necessarily healthy, but I would say it’s simple, and it’s with the best ingredients I can find,” he said. “It’s not with lots of sauces or anything. To me, the best meal is about the right ingredients cooked at the right temperature, even if it’s just pasta and olive oil. It just simply has to be the best pasta.”

“They’re always very simple dishes I make, it’s never spicy-hot, but more flavored with lots of herbs and spices,” he said. “There is a chef based in France, Olivier Roellinger, who has lots of spices you can add to your food. I love to play with those, too.”

Pastries and desserts are among his specialties, especially after getting an ice cream maker. “I am very good at desserts. Some of them, like chocolate mousse, are very simple and efficient recipes, and it depends more on the quality of the chocolate than anything else,” he said. “But I also do love a fruit salad, when it’s the season. I have one with mango, passionfruit and lime, which is very good.”

Cooking for friends and guests, he said, is his favorite way to practice. “I do not know all the people who use my perfume, but with food, people can reach you and say that they like what you do,” he said. “I love the idea of working hard for something that rewards you right away, especially when you get to share.”

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