Something a little different this week: a review of a television show, which you can watch right now on Netflix. Chef’s Table: France is a series looking at some of the most famous and esteemed chefs in France, exploring their methods and the dishes that made them well-known. It starts with a feature on Alain Passard, who is head chef and owner at L’Arpege in Paris.
I’m not usually one to watch cooking shows, if I’m honest – I prefer to get stuck in and make things myself. But this one is more than just a programme about food. It’s a beautifully filmed homage to one of the masters of the craft, and feels more like a Hollywood film than a cooking show.
The reason I loved this episode in particular is because Passard gained infamy after turning his restaurant into a vegetable-only affair. He gained his 3 Michelin stars on meat dishes, but then turned it all around after he started to fall out of love with cooking. Cutting meat off the menu was considered revolutionary at the time, and raised more than a few eyebrows. But his restaurant continued to thrive, and maintained its stars.
I loved hearing Passard talk about his relationship with food, and how he learned to cook. It’s a really great introduction to the world of the chef’s kitchen for the uninitiated, and you get a sense of how this man has dedicated his whole life to food. It’s also a revealing look into just how much of yourself you have to give if you want to be good enough for Michelin. He has plenty of interesting little gestures and mannerisms which mark him out as a quirky kind of genius – and that is reflected in his food.
I definitely recommend this to all food lovers, veggie or carnivore alike. It does feature a few meat dishes, including his signature from back in the day, half a chicken sewn to half a duck. If you’re squeamish, I would recommend not eating while you watch it. On the other hand, don’t watch it hungry – you will find yourself hunting for snacks as everything veg-based on screen looks so good!
It’s such an interesting insight, and if nothing else, a great way to relax on a lazy day with the sound of the beautiful French language filling your ears as your eyes taken in wonderful cuisine.