CELEBRATING THE EPICURE LEGEND
Its celebration time in Paris the global gourmet capital of gastronomy! It is star spangled and it marks the double decade of the French legend Chef Eric Frechon in the iconic almost a century old Le Bristol. Ive been following the shy and quiet triple Michelin starred Chef Eric Frechon’s work past two decades. I first dined on his flamboyant luxurious masterpieces in the equally flamboyant winter restaurant. Ive been recording many a French legend’s work not just in my columns and books but also TV shows. From being blessed enough to get an interview with the emperor of French cuisine Paul Bocuse in his gastronomique restaurant in Lyon to filming at Alan Ducasse’s Louis XV in Monte Carlo. Recording Alain Passard’s vegetarian masterpieces in his small 30 seater no frills restaurant more than fifteen years ago was a treat. As also dining at almost all the Parisian Michelin starred restaurants and spending time with the chefs for the worlds first vegetarian guide to Paris (published by The Times of India). But my fascinating encounter with this quiet soft spoken Triple Michelin starred chef began much earlier.
THE PRESIDENTS FIRST LOVE
The Presidential residence, Elysees palace is almost within air kissing distance of the understatedly elegant Le Bristol. In fact it was several years ago on a sunny cool afternoon that I attended Sarkozy’s 14thjuly French national day party at the Presidential palace. And shortly after that I got to know that Chef Frechon was Carla and Nicholas Sarkozy’s favourite. And continues to be so. In fact my first column about Chef Frechon was titled “The Presidents first love”. Chef Frechon has had royalty, heads of state, Hollywood superstars eating out of hands. But ofcourse, neither he nor Aude Montegut will talk about it. It was all my research and digging around that helped me find out.
COMFORT WEDS LUXURY…
Who would imagine that a revered French chef would use the humble macaroni in his haute cuisine?
It is this dish of the world famous stuffed macaroni which is President Sarkozy’s favorite. Chef Frechon adds his magic of black truffle, artichoke, duck liver pâté, and then voila! cooks it in old parmesan.
France’s leading food writer and my friend Francois Simon pointed out to me that the one exceptional quality about Chef Frechon’s cuisine is it’s
“sincerity and honesty”. And I add to that by pointing out that what is truly remarkable is the way Chef Frechon presides over the marriage of comfort with luxury. And the twenty year celebration celebrates these classics which are being offered in all their glory in the elegantly beautiful room designed by Pierre Yves Rochon (another favorite of mine.)
He uses the black diamond of gastronomy the truffle in the most brilliant of ways. Éric Frechon, “the truffle is perhaps my favourite country product. It’s a diamond among ingredients that demands only to be cut”. It is used in many of his dishes, He uses some slivers “thickly cut, so they crunch in the mouth” on potatoes or Bresse chicken. Of the white truffle, he says: “I cook this Mozart of mushrooms much more simply than I cook a black truffle. I just like using it in a risotto or in pâtés.” And of course I always order scrambled eggs with truffle. And Chef Frechon uses caviar with equal deftness …on the soft boiled egg, adds maple syrup for the kiss of sweetness and crowns it with caviar.
His very casual “Lazarre” at the railway station is also my favorite. Lunched there several times. It ‘s a testimony to the chef’s multi-talents. But in this column we salute his twenty glorious years in Le Bristol where his casual classics in 114 faubourg, delight. Dining amongst Maja Oetker’s cheerful happy dahlia designs and tripping out on the “fish n chips” is as much of a treat as the hearts of salad in Café Antonia (while admiring Marie Antoinette s original canvas). All of it a testimony to Chef Frechon s triple Michelin stars and several national awards.
Id dined on Chef Frechon’s fabulous tasting menus twice several years ago, I needed to up date myself on his creations. And so even though I was to attend Mauro Colagreco (recently crowned “The world s best chef” ) dinner I made it a point to dine alone (before my official dinner )to check out his jewel of a vegetarian dish. It’s the “pineapple tomato” a vibrant dish exploding with sweet, tangy flavors and textures. The Maestro was also generous to share his superbly simple but simply superb recipe with us.
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