In the Kitchen with: chef Romain Meder, Plaza Athénée

1 February 2016

In eleven days, eighteen chefs will gather under the exquisite glass canopy of the Grand Palais to share their cooking with food lovers young and old for the second annual Taste of Paris food festival. In anticipation of the big day, I went into the kitchens of the restaurant Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athénée (just awarded 3 Michelin stars for 2016) to chat with head chef Romain Meder about the event, his cooking and how haute cuisine in Palace hotels compete with the city’s top neo-bistros. La question obligatoire: what is it like working with Alain Ducasse?  There’s nothing like it. He gives us tremendous responsibility and allows us to be autonomous. We mature very quickly working by his side. In some cases, you’re working on the other side of the world — like I was, when he sent me to open Idam Doha, Qatar. You don’t see him all the time so you’re forced to convey his philosophy and his message to local teams and to diners. The opportunity he gave me in Doha was invaluable. It was challenging, of course: open a gastronomic restaurant, a café, several boutiques in museums. I had 51 cooks and a blank […]…

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My 5 Favorite Restaurants in Paris

12 November 2015

If there is any question I am asked at least a handful of times per week it’s, “what are your absolute favorite restaurants in Paris”? which is somewhat akin to asking a parent which child they prefer. I don’t like to play favorites because at this point, there is so much good food in Paris that I feel like I would be doing myself and those asking a disservice by narrowing down my selection to only one or two. BUT while I value what many chefs are creating in Paris right now, there are only a handful of places I return to time and again. The 5 restaurants below meet my personal requirements for a quality meal, from the atmosphere and service to what’s on the plate. Will these change with time? Possibly. And if they do, I will update this post accordingly. I hope these pique your interest ! Bon appétit ! PIERRE SANG ON OBERKAMPF / ATELIER PIERRE SANG ON GAMBEY Since Pierre Sang, Top Chef finalist and former Christian Constant pupil, opened his first restaurant in 2012, I’ve observed his evolution with studied interest. His market-to-table ethos carries over to his new atelier Pierre Sang on Gambey, which opened in August, but […]…

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Shakespeare & Company Café Opens in Paris

12 October 2015

There are a few special places in Paris that need little introduction – the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, a handful of parks and, I’d argue, the literary institution, Shakespeare & Company. But I’ll give you a little background anyway. When it was owned by American expat Sylvia Beach in the 1920s-1930s, it was a magnet for the period’s literary greats, from Hemingway to Fitzgerald and Joyce. It shuttered during the Nazi occupation and only reopened in 1951, when George Whitman, another American, took over the space. Under Whitman’s charge, the bookshop continued to be a draw for writers (Langston Hughes, Anais Nin, James Baldwin) who came to work, hangout and eventually present their work. When he passed, his daughter Sylvia took the reigns and has grown the business ever since. That one bookshop with such legacy has been so fervently protected and cared for is a testament to Sylvia’s love for the space; what it symbolizes within her family and for so many readers and writers around the world. So when I was interviewing Marc Grossman of Bob’s Bake Shop (and Bob’s Juice Bar and Bob’s Kitchen) for my book and learned he was going to be involved […]…

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Paris Dining: Au Passage (video)

25 September 2015

It’s an exciting time to live in Paris. In fact, that’s been true for the last five years as I’ve watched sleepy neighborhoods and fringe enclaves come alive with interesting food concepts, niche boutiques and a creative energy I never thought I’d feel in the city. My own neighborhood, the 11th arrondissement, has seen perhaps the most dramatic changes and most of them have been in food and drink. There are a number of establishments that can be credited with inspiring food-conscious Parisians to leave their familiar quartiers and travel to the 11th to dine (some of which I will talk about in my book!) but Au Passage ranks high on the list of relaxed bistrots that have radically shaken up the Parisian dining experience, with an approach that feels at once completely French and yet completely novel.  Bon Appétit magazine just released a new video that takes you inside Au Passage and manages, in only a few minutes, to tap into what is so special about the place and what continues to draw in crowds. Watch below! (email readers, click over the blog to watch!) Ps. today kicks off the two-week photoshoot with Charissa Fay for my book! Things […]…

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5 Things You Didn’t Know About Paris Markets (featuring Emily Dilling)

20 September 2015

If you subscribe to my monthly newsletter, you had an advanced look at Emily Dilling’s new book My Paris Market Cookbook: a CulinaryTour of French Flavors and Seasonal Recipes (not subscribed yet? Click here!*), which looks at the true artisans at Paris’s many markets and food shops. Inspired by the slow food movement still dominating California, she was determined to seek out the individuals trying to revive the artisanal lifestyle in Paris. With beautiful photography, fascinating anecdotes and easy-to-make recipes, there’s no better book for the market lover.  In honor of the book’s recent release, I asked Emily to share a few things you may not have known about Paris markets. Any surprises?  1// They aren’t all “farmers” markets Even though Paris markets may ressemble what we call Farmers Markets in the States, Paris markets are often lacking an essential element of American outdoor markets: farmers. Most of the vendors at Paris food markets are resellers of wholesale, often imported, produce. While the city counts over 80 neighborhood markets, many are completely void of locally grown produce, and others may have only one farmer among the stands. Luckily, one farmer is enough to cover your seasonal produce needs! Check out my list of farmers […]…

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