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Oct 15, 2013 01:46 PM

"Est-ce que le chef peut créer un menu spécial pour nous?"

[above quote from Parigi]

Currently active thread on Chez L'Ami Jean got me curious as I would usually prefer this for a restaurant that I am visiting for the first time.

What other restaurants in and out of Paris would this work not only for the regulars but especially for the first time visitors who are adventurous and willing without being served the "daily special?" Any experiences?

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  1. Welcome back, Kurtis. This is a brilliant question. I look forward to answers.

    I think that Le Cep in Fleurie used to be the kind of place where you could do this. I'm not sure how it would work under the new kitchen.

    The more I muse this, the more Jego's singular talent becomes apparent.

    3 Replies
    1. re: mangeur

      There are plenty of singularly talented chefs in Paris, but very few seem to have persisted in being a hands-on owner-chef of a small place for many years, in the face of publicity, popularity and alternative commercial opportunities, as Jego has done.

      I will also say I admire the generosity with which the kitchen economics seems to be run. It is a very large team in there relative to the number of seats and the buying/ provisioning is clearly lavish as well to support the many menu options (I'm guessing the expensive proteins - game, wild-caught fish - are not being hauled out of the freezer and de-frosted on demand).

      1. re: shakti2

        Well said. An imporant aspect to point out.

        1. re: shakti2

          "the generosity with which the kitchen economics seems to be run."

          One of the most illuminating of recent comments was Ptipois' reminder that waste is the mortal enemy of any kitchen. When small quantities of product can be developed into an off-menu course in a carte blanche, you have win-win situation.

          This is an area in which Jego excells.

      2. Honestly I can't think of any places where that is done. Not everybody has Jégo's talent for improvisation and in other places (not all), regulars or friends get that treatment.

        However that does not mean it's not possible, and it would be interesting to find out how, generally, restaurants would react when confronted to that request from first-time customers.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Ptipois

          Indeed the question is the translation of a question phrased by Kelly.
          The way it happend in Chez l'Ami Jean, it was Mario who suggested to us the first time and every time: would you like the chef to take care of you ? Voulez-vous que le chef s'occupe de vous ? or Voulez-vous que le chef crée un menu spécial pour vous ?

          1. re: Parigi

            I love the French language. Makes my toes curl in anticipation.

            Understanding it would undoubtedly remove the thrill.

            1. re: Parigi

              Parigi, it does seem to me to be the usual question asked at CAJ. Not intrusively or with any kind of pressure, just the question.

            2. re: Ptipois

              Although it's not uncommon to have tasting menu's based in the days produce, chefs whims. Some are written down, some are not - you simply trust the kitchen. True this tends to be in the more leading edge kitchens rather than traditional.

              And I though CLJ had formalized this by introducing the Carte Blanche menu as a menu option where the chef cooks his choice of dishes for you - maybe not as romantic as saying let the the chef take care of me.

              1. re: Ptipois

                "Honestly I can't think of any places where that is done."
                Perhaps, but I love to do it.

              2. Not just in France, but in the States, UK, Australia, Germany, and Italy, I've had great success for many years saying basically, "I'll have whatever the chef feels like cooking for me." Have rarely been disappointed.

                1. Chef J-F Renard will do this at Tintilou, I nearly always request it when I go.

                  1. Even at japanese sushi places (I'm talking about restaurants with real japanese chefs obviously) the phrase "okamase onegaishimasu" has gotten me strange looks and a point at the menu with a "Please choose what you want"...

                    So, unfortunately I doubt that there are a lot of places like CAJ that would accept this request... But it is worth trying, the worst that can happen is the waiter saying that it is not possible.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Rio Yeti

                      Indeed, even chez l'ami Jean, it started with Mario proposing it first. It would not have occurred to us to ask such a thing. But after the first two times, we got into the habit of snapping the menu shut and turning to Mario or to Jégo saying: Do it, do it to us.