Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Jul 15, 2008 11:42 AM

French Chefs & Breakfast/Brunch Dishes [moved from California board]

[We've moved this digresstion from the thread at -- THE CHOWHOUND TEAM ]

Isn't the owner/chef French? I've never been to C. but it's been my experience that the French generally disdain breakfast and that some very fine French restaurants I've known in my life who offered a Brunch never quite delivered the quality of their lunch and dinner menus-- as much as they may have wanted to. They're giving us what we want, not what they know or care about. . . just a wacky thought.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I am just curious in which restaurants in France you made this experience. I have eaten in different parts of the France and had never this experience

    1. Verpiand's egg dishes that I've had have been among the best I've ever had in my life.

      1. Yes, the owner/chef is French and the best thing about his Sunday brunches were that they were executed to the same level and attention of his dinners. Best scrambled eggs, omelettes, beignets and French toast--all w/ the exception of this past Sunday. I believe one of the tests of a great chef is how well they can pull off a 3 egg omelette (Top Chef).

        12 Replies
        1. re: daantaat

          True story. An executive chef that worked for me was a graduate of the French Culinary Institute in NYC. He said that in his classes when they were learning a new technique that it was common for one student to be the guinea pig, so to speak, while the rest of the class watched. On the day my exec. had to be the trainee for a new technique it was omelets. He was really nervous because the chef/instructor for the session was French and known to be exacting and demanding. With the chef/instructor talking him through it, my exec made his first omelet, and his second and third and on and on all morning. The chef/instructor? None other than Jaques Pepin :-). My exec, btw, made great omelets. Gee, I wonder why.

          1. re: DiningDiva

            Of course. But omelettes and eggs aren't a French breakfast. And brunch is not a French meal. Just as we have a different concept of "Lunch" than a French eater does. I would just assume that a serious French chef/owner offers his patrons brunch (as opposed to lunch) as a way to get by with a less serious, less demanding meal and make a bit of money-- since Americans see brunch as more "special" than lunch. It was just a theory based on the French people, chefs, and restaurants I've known, there and here.

            1. re: pickypicky

              But that does not preclude a French chef from making a very good breakfast, which the chef at Cavaillon does. Whether he sees breakfast as less serious or not is just speculation, but based on what he produces for that meal, I would say he puts as much effort into it as he does for the evenings. I don't think that any chef who truly cares about his food -- as Cavaillon's does -- will put out anything less than his best regardless of the time of day it is served. I'm currently reading Michael Ruhlman's book, The Soul of a Chef, which contains a fascinating portrayal of Thomas Keller of the French Laundry, considered by some to be one of the greatest restaurants in the world. Keller gives the same attention to his staff meals as he does his foie gras creations. It never occurs to him to do less than his best for any meal he creates. But even this culinary giant is human -- sometimes his execution is off and a dish fails. It is unreasonable of us to expect perfection every single time, and those of us who do don't understand the gestalt of cooking. Is Cavaillon's chef good at what he does? Absolutely. Will he fail from time to time? Absolutely. But more often than not he succeeds, and boy howdy is it good when he does.

              1. re: pickypicky

                "But omelettes and eggs aren't a French breakfast. And brunch is not a French meal."

                France is (as many other countries) very diverse in culture and food. So it is not correct to say that French disdain breakfast in general. Certain parts of France do it but there are also parts like Alsace, Lorraine, Champagne-Ardenne and parts of the Normandy to name a few who based on their history have a very different approach to food than for example PACA.

                1. re: honkman

                  "'But omelettes and eggs aren't a French breakfast. And brunch is not a French meal.'

                  France is (as many other countries) very diverse in culture and food. So it is not correct to say that French disdain breakfast in general."

                  The poster did not say that the French don't eat breakfast. Just that they don't, in general eat eggs or omelettes, I believe that that's true in general.

                  1. re: The Old Man

                    I don't believe this to be true. I've had many omelettes in various parts of France..with Truffles, forest mushrooms, many other ingredients depending on the locale.

                    A quick search on the net traces references in French cookbooks back to 1653, and 1393 for its ancestors :

                    1. re: The Old Man

                      "Just that they don't, in general eat eggs or omelettes, I believe that that's true in general" - This is simply not true.

                  2. re: pickypicky

                    Brunch is more special than lunch??!?!?!??

                    Damn! when did that one get by me?

                    1. re: DiningDiva

                      I honestly think the market (eater audience) in SD is kind of pushing this belief (that I do not happen to agree with). My husband and I have had a standing lunch date every Saturday to celebrate the weekend and break out, and dine out of our neighborhood. Fewer places are serving lunch on Saturdays, and although I understand part of the reasoning is because there is not the weekday, business lunch crowd to support it I also find that places that do offer service on Saturdays are switching to brunch-heavy or brunch-only options. Could be wrong, but I believe this is clearly market driven by the weekend-dining mindset of this town.

                      1. re: foodiechick

                        I have always thought the omelet was a French creation and to be savored like no where else. So it really baffles to see the statements about Breakfast not being a French specialty!

                        1. re: nutrition

                          We LOVE lunch out. We can afford it at the more expensive restaurants. It makes my man's mid-week days off special. Dining rooms seem to be quieter. And Man loves the French tradition of it-- dining well mid-day. But as a French trained chef with 25 years kitchen experience, he avoids brunches for the reasons I mentioned above; mainly because it's an American marketing concept-- as Foodiechick aptly notes, not a traditional meal. But it was just a theory. . . .

                        2. re: foodiechick

                          May also be a function of the fact you can run a better food cost at breakfast/brunch than you can at lunch, i.e. it's less expensive and more cost effective to prepare breakfast items than lunch items. And with the cost of food escalating that may be driving the switch you're seeing as much as any perceived preference San Diegans may have.

                          A few weeks ago a friend and I stopped in Dish for lunch and left when we saw that the "Lunch" menu was top-heavy with "Brunch" dishes. We weren't in the mood for that, and we definitely didn't equate it with being better or more special. In fact, we were disppointed, it was warm and the little patio looked inviting, but eggs, pancaks, waffles and various iterations just didn't sound all that appealing at 12:15 pm