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Very sad news for Taillevent

Theobroma Jan 7, 2008 10:14 PM

Very sad news indeed.
Mr Jean-Claude Vrinat who made Taillevent as know it today passed away monday morning.
I thought it might be of interest to many readers of this board.

The news article in french:

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  1. b
    brian d RE: Theobroma Jan 7, 2008 11:02 PM

    oh, that is really terrible. i sent an e-mail just this morning confirming some details of our reservation for a dinner in late march, and i was very, very much looking forward to meeting monsieur vrinat. honestly, i wonder if the experience (the first brush with haute cuisine for my wife and me) will lose its luster for his passing. honestly, it makes me reconsider our reservations. anybody care to share their thoughts on this? it would surely not be too late to make other plans (perhaps guy savoy, for example?) if that were the prevailing wisdom on this board. souphie? chefjune? phild? others? i'm in a bit of a shock: our correspondence was so promising (and included assurances of commemmorative photos with monsieurs vrinat and soliveres, as well as a kitchen tour). please let me know what you think: i'm open to suggestions. (for what it's worth, we're planning on one more encounter with haute cuisine during our trip, at le bristol on easter monday.) in particular, our original plans for taillevent seemed like the perfect, memorable entree into the fine dining experience; i'm at a bit of a loss...

    9 Replies
    1. re: brian d
      brian d RE: brian d Jan 8, 2008 12:02 AM

      for the record, a quick update:

      when i broke the news to my wife and suggested that maybe we should consider an alternative to taillevent, she expressed a strong desire to stick to the reservation, largely out of respect for monsieur vrinat's very welcome feeling. in that case, might we still expect the same sort of warm welcome, and perhaps the little extras--photo op and kitchen tour--that were originally promised? any encouraging words here? (maybe that's asking a bit much under the circumstances...)

      1. re: brian d
        Theobroma RE: brian d Jan 8, 2008 12:14 AM

        I cannot see any reason why the more than excellent service inspired by Mr Vrinat to the entire staff would vanish anytime soon.

        We will surely miss him a lot and it will never be the same again but I think the spirit will still be there.

        1. re: brian d
          kirk in NY RE: brian d Jan 9, 2008 12:38 PM

          it is very sad, but you would do yourself and the Vrinat family and Taillevent's magnificent staff a diservice if you cancel. I've been lucky enough to eat there many times over the last 12 years, and it was a shock to see M. Vrinat this Novemember, b/c he clearly was ill (looking like he;d aged 10 years in the 8 months since we'd seen him last), but his good humor and amazing sense of hospitality were not flagging at all. Soliveres is cooking very well and the dining room staff is beyond impecable. M. V will be missed and is truly one of a kind, but his influence and training will live on --at least through the date of your visit.

          Go, enjoy yourself and have a great bottle of wine from his extremely fairly priced wine list in his memory.

          1. re: kirk in NY
            brian d RE: kirk in NY Jan 9, 2008 04:22 PM

            thank you very much, kirk, theobroma, and chefjune. i do think that your sentiment is very much ours. it's odd to feel the loss without even having met him, but i'm sure others have had similar experiences: indeed, i've read a number of posts referring to monsieur vrinat's wonderful e-mails, so very much like what we received. i believe that we'll raise a glass of burgundy in his honor on the day, and ask tailllevent's wonderful sommelier to choose the vintage...

        2. re: brian d
          Greg in Chicago RE: brian d Jan 10, 2008 07:04 PM

          My only visit to Taillevent was in late November, for lunch. I thought that Mr. Vrinat looked older than the photographs I'd seen. However, we felt lucky to have had the pleasure of visiting Taillevent, and were sorry that the dinner experience did not fit our plans.

          After a splendid meal, when the lady returned from the powder room as we prepared to leave, an elegantly dressed mature woman with a warm demeanor and a smile that could melt an iceberg, presented our coats. I could not help wondering if that might have been Madame Sabine Vrinat, because the woman looked much like Mr. Vrinat's wife, whom I had seen in photographs. Perhaps a Chowhounder might know if Mrs. Vrinat ever helps out in the restaurant.

          In any event, I would discourage anyone from cancelling a trip to Taillevent because Mr. Vrinat has left us. People can always compare one grand Paris cafe to another, and tastes and preferences may differ, but it is difficult to imagine anyone sorry for having dined there.

          1. re: Greg in Chicago
            souphie RE: Greg in Chicago Jan 10, 2008 07:54 PM

            The daughter of Mr. Vrinate does more than help in the restaurant. She's the one taking over from him, like ke took over from his father.

            1. re: Greg in Chicago
              ChefJune RE: Greg in Chicago Jan 11, 2008 06:53 AM

              I agree with souphie. I am sure that was Valerie, their daughter.

              I feel confident that as long as the family still owns and runs Taillevent, it will always be a memorable dining experience. but M. Vrinat will surely be missed.

            2. re: brian d
              brettb RE: brian d Jan 14, 2008 09:07 AM

              Brian, we went to Taillevent a couple of days after Christmas, and M. Vrinat was not there. I assume that he was ill, and may have had something to do with his passing but this is all speculation. All I can tell you is that even without M. Vrinat, the food, atmosphere, and most of all, the service were amazing. While this is definitely sad news, I am sure he left his daughter capable of keeping Taillevent's traditions. It was our first brush with haute cuisine also, and I felt very welcomed, and would return again without hesitation!

              1. re: brettb
                brian d RE: brettb Jan 14, 2008 04:09 PM

                Brett, thanks for the encouraging words. Yes, i think we really must keep our reservation and honor M. Vrinat's memory. It adds a rather poignant layer of meaning to the whole experience, although I would have preferred otherwise, obviously. I'll be sure, as well, to keep my memories of the experience in order and pass them along when we return from our trip.

            3. ChefJune RE: Theobroma Jan 8, 2008 06:07 AM

              How very sad. Indeed the end of an era.

              His daughter Valerie has been working with him in running the restaurant for many years, tho, and I cannot imagine it will lose its luster. That's a tradition.

              Everyone who loves the restaurant, and M. Vrinat, will miss him, for sure. I will never forget him coming upstairs during our lunch a couple of years ago to sing happy birthday to me along with his waitstaff. That was so thoughtful and memorable.

              1. annamikemc RE: Theobroma Jan 8, 2008 07:47 AM

                So sad...there was a lovely email from him in my inbox yesterday morning about our upcoming reservation.

                1. j
                  Jeff RE: Theobroma Jan 9, 2008 10:12 AM

                  There was a nice obituary in today's New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/09/wor...

                  I feel fortunate to have eaten there for the first time about 2 months ago.

                  1. a
                    AGM_Cape_Cod RE: Theobroma Jan 10, 2008 04:49 PM

                    The first time we dined at Taillevent was in 2001. After 9/11 we received a condolence card from M. Vrinat. We have dined there several times since and always enjoyed it. Over the years there have been other cards from M. Vrinat-the latest arriving a week ago wishing us a Happy New Year. He was a very special man.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: AGM_Cape_Cod
                      ChefJune RE: AGM_Cape_Cod Jan 11, 2008 06:54 AM

                      I also thought about all those lovely New Years' greetings when I read of his passing.

                    2. b
                      bigib2 RE: Theobroma Jan 20, 2008 02:40 PM

                      Yes. We had a wonder time on our two recent visits. A year ago Dec. was Kims 5oth and they treated us as stars. I last saw Jean-Claude last Sept.and he did not look well. We will be back but will miss him dearly.

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