Story by Manos Angelakis
Photo courtesy The Plaza Athénée
Paris’ Restaurant Scene
The high-end hotel restaurant dining scene is suddenly changing in France; Paris in particular.
Following the COVID pandemic, Michelin-starred restaurants of five star hotels in Paris are starting to eschew their high-priced image and temple of gastronomy status to become a little simpler and less expensive venues trying to attract more of an upscale local clientèle. A good example of the trend is the departure at the end of June of Alain Ducasse from Plaza Athénée in Paris, though he continues his collaboration with the Dorchester Group at Le Meurice, Ducasse’s second Parisian venue, and at the Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester restaurant, in London.
It is interesting to note that Monsieur Ducasse was reviewed out of his posh New York City venue in the early 2000s by Manhattan food writers and critics when he opened an ambitious, extremely expensive, but not-all-that-good restaurant at the Marriott Essex House. Since then, he has had a bistro and other much less grand venues in Manhattan with nice food, but none at the exalted level he initially started with.
Alain Ducasse is a very busy man. He no longer rattles pots and pans around the pianos (stoves) of his restaurants; instead he jets around the world training chefs de cuisine to take care of his clients. He claims that this way, the food and presentation are consistently excellent because the kitchen no longer depends on one man’s moods.
He recently decided to diversify his ventures that count over thirty businesses in eleven countries; he has been giving more momentum to a whole series of newer collateral projects. The Parisian Manufacture de Café Alain Ducasse, a coffee roaster and chocolatier, already launched for a number of years as a coffee and chocolate venue, will soon start operating as a full scale patisserie, while at the end of summer, again in Paris, Sapid will make its debut in an informal dining format, at affordable prices. We will see what the future brings for him and his food empire.
We think that a number of the better Parisian stalwarts are ready to start in a new, more informal path, even within some of the most coveted edifices of the French capital. They all depend on high-end international tourism that will need time to return; although it will certainly return hopefully sooner than later.
In Paris, in recent months, there are several famous hotel restaurants that have been abandoned by their chef/patróns and, though on one hand, grand projects are always in the works for famous hospitality venues that also involve partnerships with great chefs, on the other hand, there are also a number of defections of very prominent figures in grand hotel dining. Most notable departure, before Mr. Ducasse, was of Nicolas Sale who in March left the two-star kitchen of L’ Espadon at the Ritz Paris hotel, made famous by the best known cook in the world, August Escoffier, who in partnership with Caesar Ritz gave birth to the most celebrated group of international hotels and restaurants.
© July 2021 LuxuryWeb Magazine. All rights reserved.
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