Timing is everything!

As many of you know now, I was given the honor of being named Master Chef of France in late 2011. The induction ceremony took place in France on March 24, 2012. This event coincided perfectly with my Mom’s birthday and since I wanted to take my sous-Chef, Manuel, to France for some culinary inspiration, I booked my trip right away. This is the account of my week-long trip to France, adventure by culinary adventure. Enjoy!

Tuesday morning I woke up somewhat rested. No. Actually I was exhausted to tell you the truth. I had stayed up the night before until 3am sending back notes and pictures of my trip to my assistant so that she could start gather and collecting all this information. So when I woke up to my alarm I really just felt like going right back to sleep. Instead, I finished packing my bags, checked out of the hotel and caught a taxi to the Perpignan airport.

There I finally got my morning coffee. My plane was scheduled to arrive at noon and I was to meet Manuel, my sous chef, in Paris…so I thought. When my plane landed at the Orly airport I was greeted again by my friend Philippe (I told you about him previously) only he was alone. When he explained that Manuel’s flight was cancelled (he found out at the CDG airport!) my heart sank a little because I had been so excited to see him and to start showing him around Paris. I had fantasized our arrival of driving into Paris like Caesar and Maximus (reference from my favorite movie) riding in on their chariots to conquer Lutetia!! And then I realized that the schedule that I had worked so hard to plan was now thrown completely off course.

As you can imagine, my arrival in Paris was not the way I envisioned it many times in my head! I was finally making a dream come true by bringing Manuel to France. Many of you may not realize that Manuel and I have been working together for many years. I wanted him to see French culture and eat it too!  Now I had to make the best of my deception and move on, because I was on a mission. A mission to video, take pictures and absorb culinary inspiration for our upcoming media dinner and beyond.

We made our way to Philippe’s car. I suggested that we stick to the schedule and that we grab a bite to eat. I was starving. He agreed and we drove into Paris.

Philippe took me to my hotel, the Sofitel near the Concorde, just so that I could drop off my bags. From there, we headed to the Royal Monceau Hotel. First of all, this place is amazing. It was recently redone by Philippe Stark after a famous demolition party! Read the account from Wikipedia below:

In June 2008, the entire furniture of the hotel was put up for auction. This auction sale, carried out by Cornette de Saint-Cyr, yielded 3,3 million euros. On June 26, 2008, A “Demolition Party” was organized in order to celebrate the beginning of the construction work ; 1500 people turned up and, led all along by construction workers, watched live performances by various artists (fluorescent wood installation in the lobby, screening of a movie directed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino, live production of a short movie directed by Olivier Dahan, gigs…)

The significant renovation works started the very next day under the leadership of the renowned French designer, Philippe Starck. The extensive works were finished in the autumn of 2010, and the hotel re-opened on October 18, 2010. The luxury hotel now includes 149 bedrooms – instead of 260 – of which 61 suites and 3 prestige apartments (located in the attached building, 41 avenue Hoche, now part of the luxury hotel), a 1500 square meters spa with a 26 meters long pool.

Well, once we were seated at the bar I ordered my lunch. I had (don’t laugh)… a burger! I know, I did not fly all the way to Paris to eat a burger especially when I know that the best burgers are in the States (in Texas should I say?)! But after being so tired and traveling so much, that’s what sounded good. Plus I wanted to see how they do burgers in Paris especially at a place like Royal Monceau! Well, here’s how it’s done: with a “basket” of fries and 3 sauces.

burger + 3 dipping sauces

Philippe’s beer – I do not like beer but I liked the bottle!

After lunch Philippe suggested we attend a wine tasting of rosé wines. It was at the Ritz so why would I refuse such an offer?

rosé wine at the Ritz tasting

The Ritz hotel

After the wine tasting, I had just enough time to mail some postcards to our media contacts for a media wine dinner we had planned for my return and to buy another memory card for my camera. Then I headed back to the hotel to unpack and get ready for the evening activities.

Unfortunately I had to start without Manuel, but check back tomorrow to see where my culinary adventures in Paris really began.

French lesson of the day: Nous allons à une dégustation de vins rosés.

Translation: We are going to a wine tasting of rosé wines.

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