High-end food forum Opinionated About Dining (AOD) has dubbed Parisian restaurant L’Arpege—headed by Chef Alain Passard—as the best in Europe for the second consecutive year. Here are some facts that you might know about Europe’s best restaurant.
In 2001, Chef Alain Passard took meat completely off his menu. Even though it was during the height of the mad cow disease crisis in Europe, it was still a shocking decision. Chef Alain Passard was a maître rôtisseur and his restaurant was known for its slow-cooked meats. While fish and poultry have slowly made its way back onto the menu, vegetables have been the star of this three-Michelin-starred restaurant for the past 16 years.
An Influential Figure
Chef Passard has had a significant influence on the culinary world. AOD founder Steve Plotnicki describes Chef Passard’s cooking as a variation on minimalism and deconstruction—cooking methods that have been copied by other chefs. Nine restaurants on OAD’s 2017 list are run by chefs who have trained in Chef Passard’s kitchen. His cooking philosophy has also been adopted by Alain Ducasse and René Redzepi, two of the world’s best chefs in their own rights.
Mastery of his Craft
Chef Passard is an absolute master when it comes to working with vegetables, turning them from humble ingredients into Michelin-starred dishes. Some examples of his brilliance include risotto made from radishes, beetroot vegetable tartar and lasagna made from potatoes. His signature dishes include the Bouquet de Roses: an apple pie that features slices of apple shaped like roses, and the Tomate Confite Aux Douze Saveurs: a stuffed tomato dessert cooked with 12 spices.
Chef Passard claims to have never written down or recorded a single recipe. He creates and adapts his dishes based on the morning’s delivery. While the experimentation process sometimes fills him with fear, it guarantees an element of surprise in each dish. The restaurant gets its vegetables from Chef Passard’s own gardens. The first was put together in 2002 in Fillé sur Sarthe, with two more gardens set up a few years later. Chef Passard grows his own vegetables in order to be able to tell a story from the grain to the plate.
A Man of Many Talents
Steve Plotnicki, founder of OAD, is widely known as the “king of food bloggers”. Steve started OAD in 2003 as a forum for people who have just as much of an obsession with food as he does. It soon became a blog where Steve gained a reputation as critic unafraid of expressing his thoughts. Before devoting his time to his lifelong interest in food, Steve ran the record company, Profile Records, where his biggest legacy is discovering Run-DMC. Steve also bought the rights to cult TV series Robot Wars, which he turned into a success in more than 40 countries.