PARISA Taste of the Times

Alexandre Cammas, founder of French gastronomic guide Le Fooding, singlehandedly shook up a staid Parisian dining scene. But who is picking up where he left off?

PARIS

A Taste of the Times

Alexandre Cammas, founder of French gastronomic guide Le Fooding, singlehandedly shook up a staid Parisian dining scene. But who is picking up where he left off?

In a piece for The New Yorker,  journalist Adam Gopnik notes that Le Fooding has, since its founding in 2000, been to cuisine what the French New Wave was to French Cinema, bringing American-style energy, optimism and freshness to French food without sacrificing its essential Frenchness. “The classical restaurant system needed shaking up”, says Le Fooding founder Alexandre Cammas. “It had become elite, inaccessible, devoid of passion.” Striving to reverse those French haute cuisine clichés of stuffy, laborious multi-course dinners, stuck-up sommeliers and rigorous code-following chefs, Le Fooding gave new focus to quality of produce, freedom of expression, an appetite for the novel and a love of fun.

The classical restaurant system needed shaking up

In Paris, certain chefs are now picking up where Le Fooding left off, adding informality, irreverence and imagination to what was previously considered a tradition-bound dining scene. There’s Daniel Rose, cooking playful food at his recently resurrected Spring restaurant; Christophe Saintagne, creator of pure, unsuperfluous food at Le Meurice; and Jean-François Piège conjuring creative flavour combinations at his contemporary new eatery Restaurant Jean-François Piège. Chefs at other, smaller “neo-bistros”, such as James Henry at Bones in the 11th arrondissement, Simone Tondo at Roseval in the 20th and Yamamoto Masaaki at Vivante in the 10th, are putting creative new spins on multi-course tasting menus, while Cédric Naudon’s ambitious La Jeune Rue project, an entire concept street in the 3rd arrondissement, links gastronomy and topography in an inspirational new way.

Instead of rules there should be more simplicity, transparency and straightforwardness. Le Jeune Rue is where you’d go for spontaneous Korean street food, seasonal, locally-sourced groceries or a joint from a butchers that gets its meat direct from the farm

“French haute cuisine has a tendency to over-think food,” says Cédric Naudon. “Instead of rules there should be more simplicity, transparency and straightforwardness. Le Jeune Rue is where you’d go for spontaneous Korean street food, seasonal, locally-sourced groceries or a joint from a butchers that gets its meat direct from the farm.” And, although La Jeune Rue may still be a radical concept for traditional France, what it, and what Paris’ new army of contemporary chefs are proving, is that old attitudes are shifting, French cuisine is becoming more flexible and attracting the attention of younger, more dynamic audiences.

Alexandre Cammas, Le Fooding