The Parisian restaurant scene is full of chefs perfecting classic French cuisine and at the same time reinventing famous cuisine. Not all are conventionally trained or learned in the trenches of Michelin-starred restaurants, some have even followed their desire to cook later in life after previous careers. There has also been an influx of foreign chefs manufacturing into the streets of Paris, implementing some of their native cuisines and techniques and incorporating them into local menus. We interviewed three chefs who share their pride, passion and joie de vivre for food.
Chef / Owner of Restaurant Table
Growing up in a small village in the Loire Valley, Bruno Verjus immersed himself in the wilderness very early on. At eight, he cultivated the bounty of the family vegetable garden of tomatoes, lettuce and radishes, and later he searched for wild herbs and mushrooms in the fields and forests. Also taking a liking to fishing, he fished for trout and crayfish in the local river.
Verjus was trained as a doctor but worked in the corporate world for 18 years running a packaging company. As part of his work, he has traveled the world and developed his love and curiosity for food by visiting markets, studying the products and absorbing different cultures. Eventually leaving his long-standing job to pursue his passion for food, Verjus was approached by the prestigious French publishing house Gallimard to write a series of books on gastronomy, using his in-depth knowledge of new and existing products as well as recipes. This led to the writing of food guides and his own blog, then a weekly 30-minute podcast with his friend Alain Kruger as producer. “Don’t Speak With Your Mouth Full” aired for four years and guests included food professionals, artists, writers, architects, dancers, actors, philosophers and filmmakers.
In 2013, Verjus came full circle with his many years of culinary experience and opened his first restaurant, Table (3 rue de Prague, Paris, France. Tel: + 33-1434-31226. Www.tablerestaurant.fr). The space with minimalist design in slate and limestone can accommodate 46 people. Additionally, a few doors down is a private event space and dining area that seats 14 people.
Verjus gets its supplies from afar, in close collaboration with producers from Belgium, Spain, Italy and Scotland, providing them with products available according to the seasons. The philosophy is not to order specific products but rather to make sure that the producers send their freshest products at the best time, so on a daily basis he never knows what he is going to cook and the guests do not know what to cook. advance what’s on the menu.
You grew up in the French countryside near Lyon. What are your earliest memories of food when you were little?
I lived almost on the edge of a beautiful river, the Renaison, near Roanne, a city of great gastronomy with the award-winning chocolatier Troigros (three stars) François Pralus and the cheesemaker Hervé Mons, one of the “best artisans in France. “I loved exploring the wild trout and picking up apples that fell from the trees along the river. I also liked the strong scent of the mint that I picked along the paths… a whole universe of scents of clear water, of the mucus of caught fish, of crushed wild mint.
Where did you first learn to cook and what dishes did you prepare?
I learned to cook by watching my mom, aunt and dad on the weekends. I really enjoyed helping in the kitchen, in fact I always like to taste everything. Later, I met Pastry Chef Pierre Hermé, who became my best friend, and together we visited the kitchens of great chefs from all over the world.
You were in the corporate world for a few years, then became a food writer for cookbooks, magazines, and your own blog. Why did you leave company life and how did the transition go?
There, I learned the meaning of human relations with employees and customers. I also learned to treat everyday details like micro-goals to achieve the larger goal of great success.
You have traveled a lot. What were your favorite dining experiences?
I love the sea and river parts of Thailand, as well as Japan and the Philippines. Italian cuisine, and especially that of the Aeolian Islands, is a favorite. I love raw or cooked fish, green rice, capers, hot ripe tomatoes ready to pop, wild herbs, exotic plants, the smell of burning wood mixed with grilled fish on the beach.
What made you decide to open a restaurant?
I felt the need to move from words to action. Preaching my philosophy “the way we eat determines the way we live” could only come true by feeding others. That was Table’s original idea.
You get your supplies from small producers and farms, sometimes very far from Paris. Who are your favorite suppliers and what are their specialties?
I really appreciate the beautiful wild fish from the Ile d’Yeu, the varieties of long hens from Ferme Ruchotte near Beaune, the capers from Salina, and the butter from the “red cows” of Flanders from the Somme in the extreme north of France.
Do you plan to open a second restaurant?
Yes, we are planning to open another Table in Paris in 2017, in a space of extraordinary history and beauty. It will be called Table Royale. But I can’t say anything more at the moment.
Trois Chefs De Paris – The Parisian restaurant scene was last modified: March 7, 2017 through