Lunch with Chef Alain Passard at his garden in Normandy
Jul 8 – 9
Last month, Luxeat dived stomach first into the creative world of the renowned Chef Alain Passard with a visit to his medieval chȃteau in Normandy. Also referred to as the “Vegetable King”, Passard led us on a tour of his famed chef’s garden and laid on a lunch that ran into the afternoon.
We arrived in Paris and kick-started our trip with a specially curated dinner at our all time favourite restaurant in the city, the iconic Le Duc. Just a few steps from Le Jardin du Luxembourg, the legendary seafood institution is known to be the first to serve raw fish in Paris in the sixties as well as cook it in the lighter, modern way. The head chef, Pascal Helard, guided us through a unique and unprecedented tasting menu using the best seasonal ingredients and the catch of the day. And so our epicurean journey began.
The next morning we travelled to Bois Giroult, the Normandy home of Alain Passard and the main attraction, his vegetable garden. Passard’s cooking philosophy is deeply rooted in the produce that he grows, and the three Michelin-starred chef took us on a tour of the garden, where we sampled the first tomatoes of the season, as well as other vegetables. We then enjoyed a magnificent long lunch and experienced the flavoursome magic come to life, understanding the hidden secrets and temperaments of fruits, herbs and vegetables. We were amazed to learn that Passard cultivates more than 500 varieties of vegetables in his garden, each with their unique qualities that bring particular richness to his menus and surprise the taste buds in the most unimaginable ways.
A maître rôtisseur, Passard opened his much-revered Paris restaurant L’Arpège in 1986 and quickly made a name for himself with his impeccable slow-roasted meats. Then in 2001, he stunned the food world when he announced that red meat and fish would no longer appear on his menu. He seemed like an eccentric outlier at a time when molecular cuisine and meaty mains were, quite literally, on everyone’s lips.
I’m a different man when I’m in the vegetable patch
Passard may have been ahead of his time, but his dedication and artistry in all things vegetables have taken root. It’s a delight to see the number of restaurant-owned farms cropping up across the world, as more and more chefs realise that Passard was onto something when he walked away from meat all those years ago. Today he’s looked at as the pioneer of back-to-the-land cooking, not only for his emphasis on vegetables, but also for his commitment to cultivating them with the utmost respect.
To round off our promenade through Paris, we indulged in a cosy dinner at Le Bon Georges, a traditional and old-school Parisian bistro, where we sat at the chef’s table in merriment, recounting all that had passed through our lips and our culinary journey. Bon Appetit!