The latest edition of France’s trendy Le Fooding guide to the best restaurants, hotels and bars in Paris and further afield has singled out Giovanni Passerini’s new modern trattoria in the French capital, as well as the breakaway restaurant of former Le Meurice chef Christophe Saintagne.
With the 2017 winners now unveiled, Relaxnews caught up with the founder of France’s coolest foodie guide, Alexandre Cammas.
This year, it seems that Paris – and particularly the city’s Eastern neighbourhoods – don’t have the monopoly on straight-up, modern fare.
You picked Giovanni Passerini as best chef of 2017. At a time when Paris is crazy for Italian cuisine, what makes this chef stand out from the crowd?
Italian cuisine is a hit in all the world’s big cities. This can be explained by its apparent simplicity, its relative accessibility and its incredible effectiveness. Who doesn’t like pasta, gnocchi, good mozzarella or olive oil?
But Giovanni takes things further. Of course, this guy knows how to cook Italy like few others – that’s for sure – but he also knows how to cook, period.
You have to see what he is capable of doing with large cuts such as a whole lobster, a shoulder of lamb, a whole duck, pigeon, etc.
Few chefs know how to be so good, so perfectionist in so many different registers.
That’s precisely what bowled us over – this ability to go back to the fundamental concept of the “restaurant”.
Giovanni has chosen to “restore” his customers, to replenish them, and with total freedom.
He gives diners the freedom to choose between a delicious fried pizza, a dish of home-made ravioli and a glass of wine or a full-on blowout meal.
To spend €30 (RM140) or €100 (RM470), to sit down to a starter-main-dessert or to sample one exceptional dish prepared two ways and then call it a day.
Chefs who don’t dictate what you’re supposed to like or a minimum amount you have to spend are rare – a luxury, even! And that deserves a great award.
And while others will certainly try to do the same thing, how many will succeed in doing it this well and this good?
With the best 'Coming Out' going to Christophe Saintagne’s new eatery and the best decor to Daroco, is Le Fooding keen to celebrate restaurants that aren’t necessarily fully signed-up members of the 'cuisine faubourgeoise' trend, a contemporary cuisine found in Paris’s up-and-coming neighbourhoods?
With Daroco, we’re flagging up an impressive decor. There’s no way that Paris can remain on the modern map of the biggest world cities if we are not capable of honouring, from time to time, the opening of such a spectacular restaurant.
Of course, the food isn’t the main story here, especially since their success, right from the opening, betrayed them a little, but what a place!
Saintagne, on the other hand, is completely in line with a “faubourgeoise” approach.
He left behind gilded palace hotels for a bistro, ditched three-figure menus for a more accessible offering, and switched grandiloquence for pure, simple pleasure ... what courage and what a delivery!
So this kind of cuisine is now gaining ground beyond Eastern Paris?
The revival of contemporary cuisine is effectively born in the east of the city. But if this culinary freedom gains ground in all corners of the city and beyond, then so much the better. Last year’s awards already included plenty of eateries that weren’t in Eastern Paris or even Paris at all. In fact, I think that has never been the case.
Are new talents of the food scene increasingly found in other regions of France? There’s talk of Bordeaux as a future hotspot for foodies. As well as fine dining and gastronomy, does the city have its share of interesting new restaurants arriving on the scene?
We gave our best restaurant award to a great modern bistro called Miles in Bordeaux in 2014. This year, we awarded another Bordeaux eatery, Symbiose. But there’s also a lot going on in Lyon, in Nice ... or in cutting-edge microclimates like the Basque Country and the Camargue region.
With desserts in restaurants and specialist boutiques now almost as popular as savoury creations, could Le Fooding one day give awards to pastry chefs too?
We’ve just launched our Le Fooding guide to “bars d’auteurs” [for cocktail bars and speakeasies] so anything is possible. – AFP Relaxnews
Did you find this article insightful?