If France is the capital of fine dining and Paris is the capital of France, then the best French chefs in Paris must be the best chefs in the world. France has been the world’s epicenter of fine dining for decades. Since the 1960s, chefs from all over the world have been flocking to Paris to immerse themselves in the world of “nouvelle cuisine”. Today, French chefs maintain their legacy by continuously creating new dishes to dazzle and delight. Food lovers visit Paris expecting to find the best gourmet food. To everyone’s delight, they’re not only found at pricey Michelin Star restaurants. In this article, INSIDR breaks down some of the best French chefs in Paris and their restaurants, how you can best experience their food, and where to try their food on a budget!
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Most Successful French Chefs
There are several French chefs who, together constitute the upper-echelon of France’s haute dining scene. These chefs have risen to prominence not only for their inventive dishes and expert skills, but also because they have trained the up and coming generation of French chefs poised to take French fine dining to the next level. These French chefs and their protégés will further the legacy of Paris as the top culinary destination of the world.
David Le Quellec
David Le Quellec has been the Executive Chef at the Moulin Rouge since 2015 but his career started long before he joined the world famous cabaret. His culinary career started in the military where Le Quellec served as the private chef for a five star general. Over his long career, Le Quellec worked in some of France’s top restaurants like 1 Michelin Star Taillevent, 3 Michelin Star Le Cinq and one of World’s 50 Best Restaurants, Pavillon Ledoyen. Before joining the Moulin Rouge, he served as the Executive Chef of the Concorde Opera Hotel in Paris. Chef David Le Quellec brings his many years of experience in haute cuisine to the Moulin Rouge where his specially-crafted menu combines classic French flavors with modern flair using seasonal ingredients which are all prepared fresh at the Moulin Rouge kitchen.
Alain Passard is the executive chef of the 3 Michelin Star restaurant L’Arpège which has been open since 1986. Specializing in creating avant-garde dishes with locally sourced vegetables, Passard has long been regarded as one of the best French chefs not only in the country, but in the world. He is an inspiring artist who is known for his food’s beautiful presentations. It is no surprise how his restaurant has maintained its 3 Michelin Stars for 23 years now—a feat very few can achieve. If you would like to be enamored by this chef’s philosophy and style, we highly recommend watching his episode on Netflix’s hit series Chef’s Table France.
Hélène Darroze trained under Alain Ducasse before opening her own restaurant, Restaurant Hélène Darroze in Paris. She won her first Michelin Star in 2001 and has since gone back and forth between her other restaurant at the Connaught Hotel in London. Darroze is a fourth-generation chef who has spent her whole life working in the kitchen. Today, she is one of the handful of female chefs in the world to have achieved 2 Michelin Stars. In 2012, President Nicolas Sarkozy admitted Darroze into the French Legion of Honour as a Chevalier (Knight) . It’s also worth noting that she was actually the inspiration behind the character ‘Colette’ in Pixar’s Ratatouille.
The name Yannick Alléno catches the attention of all aspiring chefs and foodies alike. He is considered to be one of the new fathers of cuisine in France responsible for having trained so many of the best and brightest young chefs in Paris and in many parts of the world now. In fact, Alleno focuses his creative energy on modernizing traditional French cooking techniques and has even patented his own technique for creating sauces called Extractions®. Among his restaurants around the world found in Marrakech, Seoul and Dubai is the highly distinguished 3 Michelin Star Pavillon Ledoyen in Paris.
French chef Thierry Marx has had a long and colorful career in the world of fine French cuisine. Before training as a chef’s assistant at famous restaurants like Pavillon Ledoyen, Taillevent, and Robuchon, Marx worked several odd jobs including a position as a security guard, warehouse employee, and even a paratrooper for the marines. Today, he’s one of the most recognized French chefs and serves as the head chef of 2 Michelin Star restaurant Sur-mesure at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Paris. He is also a very successful entrepreneur having put up over 5 restaurants in France and has authored several cookbooks.
Next Generation of French Chefs
Paris’ up and coming generation of French chefs are changing the culinary world as we know it. Combining the philosophy and technical training of the most successful French chefs of the last fifty years and adding knowledge and flavors from foreign cuisines, these new stars are pushing French cooking to the next level. These chefs are also invested in creating new, less formal restaurants where their customers can enjoy stellar food at more affordable prices.
Septime in Paris’ 11th district is the 52nd best restaurant in the world. The menu, created by chef Bertrand Grébaut is a blend of delicate and dynamic cooking styles which he learned in the kitchens of L’Arpège under Alain Passard and during his travels through Asia. Grébaut also operates the more casual seafood bar, Clamato and a wine bar called Septime la Cave attached to the principal restaurant. Septime currently holds one Michelin Star and is a favorite among Parisian foodies.
Tomy Gousset is an up and coming French chef who was recently awarded his first Michelin star for his restaurant Tomy & Co. located in the 7th arrondissement. The menu at Tomy & Co. rotates with the seasons. Some of their specialties include black truffle gnocchi, roasted apricots with verbena mushrooms, and asparagus with mimosa eggs and an orange vinaigrette. Since opening in 2016, Tommy and Co. has quickly established itself as one of the best restaurants in Paris that serve haute cuisine in a casual setting.
At the head of the Michelin Star restaurant Cobéa in Paris’ 14th arrondissement is chef Philippe Belissant. Belissant is a prize-winning chef and is regarded as one of the most exciting French chefs working right now. He also received the Grand Vermeil medal, the highest distinction given to chefs by the city of Paris. Past winners of this prize include the late Joêl Robuchon, Thierry Marx, Alain Ducasse, David Toutain and Pierre Gagnaire. He serves exquisite dishes at his restaurant Cobéa and prepare them with French technique and flavors from all over the world.
Julia Sedefdjian is the youngest French chef in history to receive a Michelin Star. She began her culinary career at just 18 and won her first star at the tender age of 21 at restaurant Les Fables de La Fontaine. It is also worth noting that she’s 1 in only 3 female chefs in France who have Michelin Stars. Sedefdjian is currently working as the head chef at BAIETA restaurant in Paris. Specializing in mediterranean food, BAIETA is the perfect place for Sedefdjian who was born and raised in the coastal town of Nice. BAIETA is best serves their bouillabaisse and pissaladière, two regional dishes from Julia’s home in the South of France.
People in the food industry call Gregory Marchand ‘the chef who conquered Paris’. Marchand first displayed a penchant for cooking as a child living in an orphanage in Western France. After training with British chef Jamie Oliver in London, Marchand moved back to France and opened Frenchie in Paris in 2009. Marchand now owns a total of three restaurants and a wine shop. Reserving a table at Frenchie can mean waiting for months at a time. Marchand’s is a true rags to riches story, making him one of the most impressive French chefs in Paris today.
The best experiences in Paris with French Chefs
Enjoy a stunning show and gourmet meal from a French chef
At the Féerie show at the Moulin Rouge, you can enjoy a feast for the eyes as well as for the stomach. Moulin Rouge’s restaurant has been recognized by expert food guide Gault & Millau as one of the best tables in Paris. Chef David Le Quellec’s spring-summer 2019 menu celebrates the cabaret’s 130th anniversary. The dining experience will take you through Paris’ culinary history. Chef David pairs traditional French dishes with new, unexpected flavors. Some highlights include foie gras with melon jelly and elderflower reduction. The kitchen also prepares sea bass with herbs de Provence and caramelized artichokes. Every element of Le Quellec’s menu is a testament to the delicacies and techniques developed by French chefs over the last century. Going to the Moulin Rouge to celebrate something special is perfect because your dinner show reservation comes with a bottle of champagne too!
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Enjoy fine dining at the Eiffel Tower
With dinner at the Eiffel Tower, experience the best view of the city alongside a meal made by one of the best French chefs in Paris. Restaurant 58 located on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower is run by superstar French chef Thierry Marx. Starting from 86€, enjoy a three course meal including champagne and wine pairings in this elegant, romantic setting. The rotating menu focuses on classic French dishes with a modern twist that are sure to delight.
A French Chef’s restaurant on the Seine river
For an unforgettable experience, book a table at Ducasse sur Seine. This restaurant located on a Parisian barge takes you on a river cruise through the heart of Paris. Starting at 100€ per person, this is an amazing way to experience Ducasse’ food in an unusual yet delightful setting.
INSIDR Tips to enjoy food from the best French Chefs in Paris
Book online in advance
Whichever restaurant you pick, always make sure you secure your table by booking in advance. People all over the world know French chefs for their exciting cooking. Seats go fast but it’s usually easy and convenient to reserve online. Most restaurants have an online booking platform built into their website. For dining experiences like the Moulin Rouge and Restaurant 58, book in advance by at least one month.
Enjoy a French Chef’s meal on a bargain
If you’re travelling on a budget, booking a table during a lunchtime seating is your best option. A la carte lunch menus are often much more affordable than those at dinner. The lunch menus are just as delectable and adventurous but for a much lower price. Another advantage? The atmosphere is usually more casual during lunch than dinner where dining etiquette can be a little uptight.
Visit the casual restaurants of French chefs’ fine dining restaurants
Looking for the casual sister versions of Michelin Star restaurants in Paris. This is another great way to experience the best French chefs’ food on a budget. Septime la Cave is Septime’s sister restaurant where you can fine wine and appetizers at an affordable price. Thierry Marx recently opened two small restaurants central Paris, MarXito gourmet fast food and, La Boulangerie an amazing bakery. Even Gregory Marchand has opened an affordable version of Frenchie, Frenchie-to-Go on the same street as his fine dining resto. If you’re a Yannick Alleno fan, head over to his bistro Allenothèque in the newly-opened Beaupassage in the 6th arrondissement!