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!
Saturday morning we went to the Marais by taxi* to do some window shopping. We stopped and bought some dried sausage for Manuel (it was later confiscated). After the Mariais, I went back to my hotel for my bags. We had one last meal with Manuel and then I had to catch a train to Roanne, near Lyon.
Once I had my suitcase and checked out of the hotel (just for a few days because I was coming back to spend my last night in Paris), I met up with Manuel and Ines Pantoli for lunch. Ines is Philippe Pantoli’s daughter and she used to work with us at Philippe Restaurant last year. Lunch was located at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in the 7th arrondissement. This was again, one of my favorite meals even though I’ve already been there at least 3 times. It is really a top level cuisine, especially for the price. It is well executed and the portions are perfect. This was my last stop before heading to Roanne to spend some time with my family so I actually relaxed a minute and appreciated the moment.
L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon has quite a different ambiance then any of the other restaurants we dined at. The décor is all black and red,from the tables and chairs to the plates and napkins. The kitchen is centrally located with a bar wrapped around it. The servers are between the kitchen and the bar (see video below). It is pretty amazing because you can actually see the chefs cooking in the kitchen.
With Chef Robuchon, the food always has a creative presentation. He has a “recipe for success” with his precision in mixing flavors, seasoning, and contrast of texture, perfect cooking temperature all within a chic and casual atmosphere.
After lunch, we said our goodbyes and I caught a taxi for the Gare de Lyon. I hopped on the TGV train (fast speed train) and settled in for a nap. Once in Lyon, I changed trains. This was a regional train and it was much slower. I enjoyed watching the countryside and looked forward to seeing my family again. When I arrived, I was so glad to see everyone but I was so tired from my last few days in Paris. Fortunately over the next few days I had time to rest and visit with family. We even celebrated my Mom’s birthday on Sunday. Tuesday rolled around before I knew it and I was off again to Paris. I had one more night in the city and one last meal to conquer… Check back tomorrow to hear about the final moments of my trip.
* This must have been the taxi driver that I gave my business card to. After I got home to Houston, someone from Dallas contacted me to say that they would be dining at Philippe Restaurant while in Houston…it had been recommended by their taxi driver while on a recent trip to Paris! What great PR for us!
French lesson of the day: Rien ne sert de courir; il faut partir à point.
Translation: There’s no point in running; you have to leave on time. The equivalent English proverb is “Slow and steady wins the race.”