Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Paris - Chef for a Day

For my 60th birthday, I took over a part of New York's Institute for Culinary Education (ICE) and, with about eight friends, cooked an elaborate meal for about sixty friends. It was a great success and is described at length in my posts of September 17, 18 and 23, 2010 ("My Big Night").

Now anyone can easily put together a party like this, at least if you happen to be in Paris. A new establishment there, "Un jour, un chef," maintains a 50-seat restaurant and lets people take over as chef of the day. The chef of the day works with the restaurant's professional chefs to create a menu which will be served for lunch and dinner on that chef's day. The restaurant is open to all, not just the chef's friends.

Un jour, un chef exterior
In addition to the daily chef's menu, there is a menu prepared by the restaurant's staff chefs, so guests can eat dishes prepared by the daily amateur chef and/or the professionals. The three-course menu is 20 euros at lunch, 30 euros at dinner (consisting of slightly larger portions). Amazingly, the chef for the day pays nothing for the privilege of using the (relatively simple) facilities, the procurement of all the food and the assistance of the professional chefs, who will do as much or as little as desired. Here is the menu for March 7:

Un jour,  un chef ardoise
I asked Olivier, one of the proprietors, whether one can take over the whole place and throw a party of one's friends, like what I did at ICE, and he said yes. (I have the impression that it has not happened so far, but the place is new and they are open to interesting ways to utilize their place and staff.) You would just have to pay the 30-euro price for the requisite number of guests plus drinks. (Of course, if you are using more expensive products - foie gras, truffles, etc. - there would be a premium.) This is a screaming bargain.

The ultimate pop-up. Would it play in New York?

Bobby Jay

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