Christian Le Squer’s name might not immediately come to mind when thinking of legendary 3 Michelin stars chefs, but this discrete master should not go overlooked. He gained his first two Michelin stars while heading up the Restaurant Opera at the Grand Hotel Intercontinental. The third came in 2002 at Ledoyen (1 Avenue Dutuit, 75008 Paris; tel. +33 1 53 05 10 00), the celebrated Parisian institution that began as a simple outdoor café during the reign of Louis XVI and was later the haunt of celebrated artists and writers like Manet, Degas and Flaubert.
As head chef at one of Paris’s best gastronomic restaurants and most historical institutions, Christian Le Squer reinvents classic French cuisine with an unpretentious hand. The ingredients are central here and bringing them alive in creative and unexpected ways is the challenge he gives himself each service. Take the spaghetti with cepes, white truffle and jambon blanc: what could have been a heavy, overly-classical dish was made light with a clever presentation.
Perhaps because of his Breton childhood or the fact that he discovered a passion for cooking while working on a fishing boat, Christian Le Squer does some amazing things with seafood. His exquisitely simple turbot with black truffles is a signature dish that will tell you everything you need to know about him as a chef. Equally impressive were the langoustines – some of the best I’ve ever had.
Le Squer hesitated between pastry and the rest when he was deciding what to focus his talent on. Apparently the grit of sugar between his fingers didn’t please him, but he picked up enough about sweets to regal us at his restaurants. I could eat his grapefruit dessert, which combines raw and cooked versions of the fruit, for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
A three-start restaurant isn’t just about the food. For me, it’s important that the chef is a part of his creation, not just a celebrity jetting around the world for pop-in visits. Christian Le Squer was present when I was eating lunch. After the service he came around to speak to each guest individually. This shows what a real artist he is, dedicated to his craft and respectful of his guests…