I have really enjoyed this series created by Paul Lacoste. I was really looking forward to this installment because I think that this chef is one of the most celebrated in present day, creates some of the weirdest combinations of food and has showed incredible resolve having earned 3* at his first restaurant then lost the restaurant only to rise from the ash to create a global empire. I was excited to learn some of the method behind this captivating figure.
I have to say, I was a bit disappointed. There is no real insight into his method-in fact he is a sloppy cook and his basement “atelier” is akin to a beat up galley kitchen on an old frigate. The dish he creates down there-which is basically some sauteed potatoes wrapped in cabbage is haphazard at best. His staff taste it and I do not see any excitement in their reaction at all. In fact they seem at a loss for words-not because its so magnificent but because it seems so pedestrian. Also, watching Chef work the line during service was difficult-no real finesse and the fish he is working with seems to be way over cooked. Who am I to say as I don’t have stars to my name….
I dined at his flagship in 2003-it was the last of 4-3* meals I had in a 10 day Paris dinning blow out. That trip put me in severe debt as I racked up some $10,000 in credit card bills knocking off some 20+ Michelin stars. In a nutshell-Guy Savoy was as close to perfection in modern French food as you can get-his signature dishes were as good as you read and all aspects of the service were sublime. Lucas Carton was heavy and stayed (still the venison cooked in sea grass with blood sauce was wonderful). Arpege will always be in my top 5 experiences of my life-the meal was contemporary but grounded with a wonderful marriage of head and heart. That 4 hour meal concluded by a regular customer named Monsieurs Façon offering me a dram of 125 year old cognac from his private stash (when I went by his table to thank him he merely said “I just want you to enjoy Paris-cool huh!). I left with a hug from Passard and giggled uncontrollably for 10 blocks. Pierre’s meal had some great moments and the sheer volume of dishes was dizzying and the number of ingredients on many of the plates overwhelming. The degustation was 9 courses but there were near triple that amount of small tastes that cropped up at various points throughout the meal. The 2 best dishes were roasted black radish topped with a celery root cream, gelee, crispy artichokes and a shower of black truffles-earth earth earth…The other was a filet of rouget wrapped in lardo with capers and crab glace. This was the first time I had lardo-it was akin to the first time I had caviar.
Anyway the movie is worth seeing it just left me feeling a bit empty. What you project onto someone you admire is often not what they are.