Food critic Pierre-Yves Chupin brought back the Lebey restaurant guides. He and his team of 20 culinary experts test the best restaurants in the capital and surrounding areas. As someone who has his finger on the pulse of the culinary scene, he shares with us the latest trends and changes in Parisian restaurant culture.
Pierre-Yves is on WonderfulTime with Franck, chef at Le caillebotte, Paris
What is the first thing you notice when you go to a restaurant?
First, the quality of the cooking: the freshness of the products, the integrity of the dish, its presentation, its temperature. We also pay close attention to the wine list, as well as the coffee and the bread. And of course, the atmosphere and service. Our golden rule is to never go to a restaurant on its opening day. You have to give a chef time to settle in and get his or her bearings.
In your opinion, what makes a good chef?
There are two types of great chefs: the creative ones, who dare to combine foods in innovative ways, and who use innovative preparation methods, and the technical experts, who focus on the products used, respecting traditional methods, and discipline in cooking. I have equal respect for both.
Paris no longer has a monopoly on gastronomy. Will it be passed up by other European cities?
Stockholm, London and Barcelona in particular use gastronomy as a marketing tool by promoting their best restaurants. But tourists can’t be fooled. They still consider Paris the ultimate culinary destination with its historic restaurants and contemporary bistros. Every week a new restaurant opens, and there is a sort of noble competitiveness here when it comes to culinary achievement. Paris also attracts many foreign chefs who want to learn and test themselves against our expertise. There have never been as many Japanese chefs in Paris as there are now. They take their own culture as seriously as they do our culinary heritage to the point of becoming the best ambassadors of our classics. There is nothing better than a pot au feu prepared by a Japanese chef!
Your two guides cover more than 1,000 restaurants.What type of cuisine is most popular at the moment?
Bistros are hotter than they have ever been. This can be explained by the proximity of the chef, dishes focused on the ingredients, the friendly atmosphere… Bistros are the Parisians’ second dining room.
And this is why you take WonderfulTime visitors to Caillebotte.
Exactly. I want to help them get into this Parisian bistro we named “Best Bistro of the Year,” take the time to have a gourmet dinner with them, let them spend a moment in the shoes of a food critic and learn what to look for when critiquing a restaurant. They’ll meet the chef in conditions normally reserved for journalists, and he’ll take some time to explain his work and even share some of his best recipes with them.
Experience a wonderful time: