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. To start from the beginning, click here. Enjoy!
Thursday night of my trip, we had eaten at the restaurant of Jean-François Piège and then gone for a drink at the Kube. After that, we took a 25 minute taxi ride to Rungis so we could see the large professional market. When we arrived at 1:30 am, the doors were closed! We asked out taxi driver, Charlie, to drop us off at the fish market entry and asked if he would come back to pick us up at 4am. He gave us his number and just said to call him when we were ready to go.
Since we had to wait half an hour, we made our way to a brasserie across the street. We also asked about the market next door and when it would open. The guys next to us said they were also waiting for the market to open. So we stayed there and had coffee and croissants at 1:30am with fish mongers and butchers all waiting to get in and have first pick of the freshest products.
When the first doors opened (the fish market opened first while fruits and vegetables did not open until 4am for the meat and 5am for produce and flowers), I found that it was very different then I had imagined. This was because of the timing of our visit. We arrived before the action got started. Also you had to come in covered, wearing a long white jacket. Fortunately we were able to purchase one there because that is the last thing we would have thought to bring!
Once we got our jackets on, we headed off the see the goods. We were in the fish building. Some products like fruits and vegetables were spread out over 10 to 12 buildings! The entire complex of buildings is spread out over 570 acres.
We saw a large variety of fish and seafood: live langoustine, sea urchin and shark (see video below). After checking out tons of fish we made our way to the meats. Here again, there were aisles and aisles of fresh and cured meats, sausage, tapas, etc.
We were getting tired so we headed on over to the fruit and vegetable section. They were just opening so we only got to see a bit of the selection. The little that we saw was incredible, but we just could not take it anymore. By that time it was 3:30 or 4 in the morning and we had to get back to our hotels for some rest. We called our trusted taxi driver Charlie and he came to pick us up.
He returned us safely to the center of Paris. That night – or morning should I say – I did not hesitate to do anything else except find my bed and crash!
Check back tomorrow, we get back to our favorite passed time: eating!
French lesson of the day: Charlie, pouvez-vous revenir nous chercher a 4 heures du matin?
Translation: Charlie, can you come back to pick us up at 4 in the morning?