You may remember that earlier this year I visited Paris. While there, my focus was primarily on French pastries. For our meals – our plan was to pretty much eat where our exploration takes us – we did not want to get restricted by reservation times. But there were two restaurant that I was simply DYING to get into.
I had read so much about chef Gregory Marchand that not getting a table at his restaurant was a huge disappointment. He fascinated me. This man grew up in an orphanage in Nantes France… and he used cooking as his personal escape. He worked with Jamie Oliver at restaurant Fifteen where fifteen kids from disadvantaged homes were hired and trained in the kitchen each year. It was Jamie Oliver who nicknamed Greg Marchand “Frenchie” because he was the only french chef in the kitchen… the name stuck and took the form of his restaurant.
So, what is so great about chef Marchand’s cooking? A question I was dying to personally answer. And I finally got my chance when I saw his name show up on the line-up of New York City Food & Wine Festival’s intimate dinner series this fall. I signed up right away. It was too good to pass up!
The NYCWFF Frenchie Bistro dinner at Hotel Plaza Athenee last week exceeded my expectations. It was sophisticated, tantalizing, mesmerizing and absolutely stunning. The four course dinner for about 150 some guests took about 3.4 hours. And the reason for the slow pace was that this intensely passionate and meticulous chef is a perfectionist. He plated EVERY SINGLE DISH that came out of the kitchen that night! To someone like me, who was dying to understand the true essence of what he is all about – this was exactly what I had dreamed of. It was gratifying to know that chef Marchand plated each morsel of food I ate that night.
Chef Marchand’s technique and palate is flawless and precise. There was nothing that was over or under-seasoned. Nothing over or under-cooked. The Foie Gras Presse was luxurious and deeply satisfying when paired with figs and earthy seasonal mushrooms. The Crispy Red Mullet was dainty and delicate in presentation as well as composition. It seemed to me like the epitome of french cuisine. The Wood Pigeon was rustic and rich in its deep flavor profile. Chef Marchand told me later that this was the one dish on that night’s menu which is closest to his heart. Ah! a rare glimpse into the chef’s soul. Just how I like it. 🙂
The dessert of Plums and Moscavido Upside-Down Cake with Shizo Ice Cream took me back to my childhood days when cakes used to boast the taste of all the ingredients that went into them, unlike these days where pre-processed and boxed ingredients muddle and obliterate the flavors you long for. It was spectacular plate and everyone at my table took ample time to capture it with our cameras before we were willing to take our first bite!
I had a blast that night. Made some new like-minded friends. Special shout out to Le and Aurelie! You guys rock! The best part of the evening was getting to meet and chat with Chef Marchand. This man sports a great sense of humor and humility along with his phenomenal talent. What a dynamite combination!
Now stay tuned for my other fabulous NYCWFF intimate dinner experience – where I met a legendary food critic! (that’s all I’m sayin’ …. for now)
Frenchie, Paris | http://www.frenchie-restaurant.com/en