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Learning my trade in Paris

I am a young cook and i will take a trip to Paris in April 2011.
I have painstakingly saved my hourly $12, for this trip, for now 2 years.

I would love to eat at Bernard Pacaud, Gagnaire, Helene Darroze, Guy Martin, Eric Frechon, Alain Passard, Barbot etc etc......but I have the budget only for one Lunch and one dinner.

Please help....were should I go????
I really want to experience a great meal from a legendary chef.

I have already eaten here in the US at L'atelier, Daniel, French Laundry, Citronelle and I am lucky to work with a Michelin stared chef.
So I am familiar with dining.

I need also to find the best tarte au citron, croissant, baguette, flan, andouillette, millefeuille, macaron, charcuterie, seafood plater etc etc etc....need also a good butcher (for bresse poultry and lamb etc).
I will have access to a kitchen so I can cook with some great French products.

Please any insight would be very great.......I hope to come back to the US with a better understanding of cooking.

Thank you.

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  1. Because of your budget, you might consider lunch at Avant Gout or le Comptoir.

    1. Search the board for the best lunch deals at the top restaurants. This is a subject that has been much discussed especially the relative vale of the set meals (in terms of ingredient quality and technique) versus ALC. With set meals at approx. €80 compared to individual courses at €80 plus it is the only way to sample on a budget. Some restaurants have generous menu's with good ingredients, others use less good to make the price point.

      1. As many here have stated, "best" is very subjective. For every one of the 11 + etc. things you have listed, you will find one or more threads with partisans of different variations.

        commisVA, why don't you do some of your own "learning of the [eating] trade" by doing a little research here before asking us to do it all for you?

        2 Replies
        1. re: RandyB

          I am not asking anyone to do the work for me.......I am asking for advise on where I should spend my money......... I have never been to France before, but I have working very hard for this trip and would like to spend the couple of thousands dollars that i saved in something mind blowing.

          There is so many stared restaurants in Paris, so many famous chefs................So please tell me what you liked, I can do my own home work.....I just have to buy a Michelin guide....

          But I want some real opinion.........From real people not from a book.

          1. re: commisVA

            Since you stated in your post that you would love to eat at Pacaud, Gagnaire, Darroze, etc, other then the famous names, what is it that draws them to you? Just about every top restaurant in Paris offers something special. There is no one or two best, therefore, choose the places that fit what you are looking for; may it be the nouvelle cuisine of Pacaud at L'Ambrosie, the minimalist of Passard at L'Arpege, the "mad scientist" of Gagnaire, the few classical dishes/vegetable desserts and historic setting of Martin at Le Grand Vefour. Since you've been to L'Atelier de Rebouchon, Daniel and TFL, what is it that you like or dislike in each of them. If you are drawn to the long tasting menu of TFL, then L'Ambrosie is not for you. But if full flavor cooking of Daniel Boulud is what you are looking for, then Pacaud will be a revelation. And Gagnaire, Passard and Barbot are tremendously talented and unique. I don't think this board is the best place to read about these places. You will get just repeats of the same recommendations from earlier threads of Le Cinq, L'Arpege, Guy Savoy, P Gagnaire, L’Astrance and a recent/still active post on L'Ambroisie. There are many high-end restaurants blogs with very detail write ups that will give you a much better impression of these restaurants.
            As for bread, pastries and viennoiseries, these have been discussed at length in many recent threads. Depends on how much time you have, get the names and try them all since the cost of a baguette, a croissant, macaron or a tart is small. As everyone have been saying; there is no one best; there are many good ones.

        2. While Christian Constant has given up the Stars game, he is quite friendly and can often be found sitting at a table at Cafe Constant or at one of his other ventures down the street. Introduce yourself during off hours, Chef Constant could be helpful.

          1. Since you are working in a professional kitchen, I would contact some of the chefs you want to experience and see if you can do a short stage in their kitchen. Perhaps your chef will recommend you?

            Personally, I would scratch Darroze from your list . I have not found her food to be of the quality of the others you mentioned.

            3 Replies
              1. re: ChefJune

                I have staged in the past with some good chefs among them Didier Elena when he held the kitchen of Mr Ducasse in NYC and that was 2 months of pure bliss. I learned a tons.

                I would give my "right ear" to stage in any of the mentioned kitchen and i have thought about it, but my fiancee is coming with me and she is already being very patient with my crazy hours in the kitchen.
                So I need to have some consideration toward her.

                I have already decided to put on my list "Frenchie, Bigarrade, Le gaigne, Simonin and le comptoir (all at Lunch) for the casual.....(I hope they are all good decision).

                Now I still have to decide on the big dinner.......
                My chef tells me Barbot (but the reviews are so mixed)....One of our Sous Chef swear by the Pre Catalan and the Grand Vefour.

                I love the style of Mme Pic........Elegant & Finesse, clean technique, tradition, modern but not too much....
                if I was in Valence I would have not hesitate for a minute.

                So still confused for Paris.

                1. re: commisVA

                  One of the reason that the reviews for Barbot is not all positive is because he is uniquely talented. Like Gagnaire, Passard and Pacaud, their restaurants are a strong personal statement of their cooking style and it doesn't suit everyone's taste. They don't necessarily play it safe. For that go to Taillevent, Le Pre Catalan or Guy Savoy. And you mentioned how much you admire the cooking of Ann Sophie Pic and her reviews are not all positive.