Recently we introduced you to the concept of nouvelle cuisine as we took a look at the originators of this impactful culinary trend. Nouvelle cuisine originated in France during the late 1960s. This new way of cooking moved away from the rich, calorie heavy, dense meals of classic French cuisine. Nouvelle cuisine sought to emphasize natural flavors, freshness, and also beautiful plating. Here are some of the top nouvelle cuisine chefs in France today.
Chef Inaki Aizpitarte’s new nouvelle cuisine can be enjoyed at Le Chateaubriand on Avenue Parmentier in Paris, France. His creations have received wide acclaim. In 2008 Le Chateaubriand was named the Breakthrough Restaurant by chefs and critics in a poll conducted by Restaurant Magazine. Aizpitarte’s restaurant was named the 40th best restaurant in the entire world in 2009. By 2010 it had risen to 11th place, and in 2011 it broke into the top ten in the world, ranking at number 9. The 1950s style bistro is frequently full with a very trendy crowd that appreciates nouvelle cuisine.
Born in France to immigrant parents, Chef Aizpitarte characterizes his cooking style as ‘‘cuisine métissée’’, which translates to mixed up and miscegenated. He changes the menu daily, so each visit to Le Chateaubriand will be unique. Highly acclaimed French chef Alain Ducasse describes Aizpitarte’s bistro this way: “Going to a restaurant should be more than just good food; it should be an experience, and Iñaki delivers an experience. He is the creator of the ‘neo-bistro’—the contemporary restaurant of Paris.”
Aizpitarte’s always evolving experimentation with ingredients and techniques doesn’t fit the traditional bistro mold of French home-style cooking. Critics describe Aizpitarte as bringing an artist’s touch to the kitchen. His food is both familiar and unexpected, with a playful twist. One example of his ingenuity in the kitchen is a dish he describes as “carbonara of the sea”. A warm slice of John Dory with mussel jus mounted with butter, pickled shallots, lemon thyme and strands of al dente potato that replace the expected noodles. This delightful twist on a classic dish is what brings patrons back again and again to his new nouvelle kitchen.
Tatiana Levha is the chef at at Le Servan, which she co-owns with her sister. She describes her cooking this way: ‘‘Le Servan is a French bistro. The food is French, the techniques are French, the way of eating is French, and the produce is very French — aside from all the un-French sour and spicy ingredients.’’ Born in the Phillipines and raised all over the globe, the multicultural chef brings her worldly experiences to her cooking. She has received acclaim for taking the best of traditional French cuisine and making it modern. Bon Appetit magazine calls her the most exciting female chef in Paris.
Le Servan features dishes like roast poulette in satay sauce, curried octopus, wonton dumplings filled with boudin noir and steamed foie gras with silky tofu. Bon Appetit recommends that you order duck hearts with sweet chili, scallop pot au feu, and lemon meringue tart.
Successful chef Christophe Saintagne left his position at a 3 Michelin star restaurant to open his own bistro. His new to the neighborhood joint was immediately well received, and reservations must be booked weeks in advance. Saintagne is credited with bringing modernity to “stuffy” French cuisine. He developed a new menu creating the concept of “sustainable haute cuisine”. This menu introduced innovative French culinary creations that used no more than 3 ingredients per dish. Nouvelle cuisine indeed! The menu at Papillon changes often and is market-driven. Saintagne heavily favors sustainable dining utilizing grains, pulses, vegetables and non-endangered seafood.
Bon Appetit Magazine recommends that one try the smoked sardine with celery and wasabi; fried eggs with bacon and truffle; duck with potatoes Anna; chocolate cake with spiced cream when visiting Papillon. They also recommend that you purchase prepared food, charcuterie, and other carefully sourced specialty products in the take-out shop that is part of Papillon.
To learn more about the history of nouvelle cuisine, please see our brief history of the culinary style. You will also want to be sure to try all three of these restaurants on your next trip to France.