My Paris: Interview with Chef Eric Frechon

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My Paris: Interview with Chef Eric Frechon

“My grandfather grew vegetables; my father sold them; I cook them.” 

Eric Frechon has left the kitchens of Epicure Restaurant at Le Bristol Paris, after 25 years (15 years with 3 Michelin stars). He explains that he wants some “me time” with his family: his wife Clarisse and son Franklin. He’s still running the brasserie Lazare, oversees the menu at Le Publicis Drugstore, and continues consulting for the Brémond-Famose restaurant group in Megève, Courchevel and Crans-Montana. 

“I felt emotional at the recent Michelin Awards- it was very special for me,” he says. However, the question is, who replaces Frechon at Le Bristol? His deputy MOF Franck Leroy? Japanese talent and Epicure sous chef Shintaro Awa? Other names circulating include MOF Tom Meyer of Granit (who denies it!), culinary maestro David Bizet, and Virginie Basselot at the helm of Le Chantecler, The Negresco, Nice.  

Frechon, always charming, smiles and says that all will be revealed soon. In the meantime, he’s given us a peek into his lifestyle in this interview.

Chef Eric Frechon

Where were you born? 

Corbie, in the Somme department. A speciality of the city is the “Corbie Pavé,” a delicious small cake based on hazelnut powder, honey and applesauce. 

 

Pavé de Corbie. Photo: Bycro/Wikimedia Commons

If you could share a coffee or a bottle of wine with a Parisian, past or present, who would it be? 

There are so many inspirational personalities, but I’d choose Christian LeSquer, whom I admire. And from the past, it’s no contest: Paul Bocuse, bien sûr! 

 

Paul Bocuse, the legendary French chef. Photo: Jarvin/Wikimedia Commons

A local personality you admire? 

Maurice Lévy Chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe, one of the world’s top communications agencies. I’d say he’s one of the most influential men in France today and in advertising worldwide. 

What do you like most about Paris? 

Well, it’s not very original, but I like the magnificent monuments and the awesome architecture.

Cycling city (C) nextbike, Unsplash

What’s on thing every Parisian should own? 

A bicycle! It’s indispensable for getting around – a wonderful way to appreciate the beauty of the city. 

What’s one thing you can’t live without? 

It may seem a little prejudiced – Normandy butter! 

Beurre. Photo credit: Raphaël Labbé/ Flickr

What’s your favorite Paris lunch address? 

La Grande Cascade in the heart of the Bois de Boulogne, especially in summer, pure magic!  

The best address for coffee or aperitifs? 

It may seem a bit “touristy,” but I love the terrace at Le Drugstore, across the road from the Arc de Triomphe. The view is iconic, the staff welcoming. I always feel good there.

Where do you shop for clothes? 

Corneliani, for their classic and timeless designs.  

Where do you buy ingredients? 

In Suresnes, just beyond the Bois de Boulogne, the rue Emile Zola is a commercial shopping street that has everything. It’s buzzing with butchers, bakers who take pride in their products.  

Rue Émile-Zola, Suresnes. Photo credit: Celette / Wikimedia commons

What’s your favorite quartier? 

Saint-Germain-des-Prés. It’s here you find the soul of Paris. Brasserie Lipp, for example. There’s so many terraces and restaurants, perfect to sit and appreciate the charms of this beautiful city as did the likes of Jean-Paul Sartre, Picasso, Simone de Beauvoir… It’s toujours chic dans le 6th 

To have fun in Paris? 

As long as you don’t get dizzy, try the Big Wheel in the Jardin des Tuileries! It’s an exciting way to see Paris from a different angle and perspective. (Open seasonally.)

Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Photo credit: Mbzt / Wikimedia commons

I wish Parisians would stop moaning. What’s your take?

Traffic jams and how long it takes them to get from A to B. “Get a bike,” I tell them.  

What’s your favorite town outside Paris? 

Lyon. Halfway between the mountains and the sea, this beautiful city is rich in history. Easy to reach from Paris (less than 2 hours by train). It’s the cradle of French gastronomy, HQ for Paul Bocuse and les bouchons Lyonnais.

And may I add Megève? Such charm, luxury hotels, chic boutiques, and Michelin-starred restaurants.

An annual festival, gala or exhibition you look forward to? 

The art festival that used to be called the Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain (FIAC), and is now called Paris+ par Art Basel. It takes place in the autumn. I think it’s returning from the temporary structure of the Grand Palais Éphémère on Champ-de-Mars, near the Eiffel Tower, to the Grand Palais this year. The Belle Époque building with its glass-and-steel vaulted nave has been renovated. As an art aficionado I never miss this event. The reopening of the Grand Palais is planned for the Paris Olympic Games. Competitions will take place there such as fencing, wheelchair fencing taekwondo and para taekwondo.  

 

Grand Palais. Photo credit: David Monniaux, CC BY-SA 3.0

A museum you cherish? 

Le Louvre. How ever many times we go there’s always something to astonish my family and me. Apparently there’s 35,000+ works of art on display at a time. 

 

 

The Louvre pyramid at night. © Thinkstock

What’s your favorite park? 

No hesitation. Les Buttes Chaumont. 

Parc des Buttes Chaumont. Photo by: Clem/ Wikimedia Commons

A building that fascinates? 

The Eiffel Tower! 

You have €25 – how would you spend it? 

In a restaurant! At the Brasserie Lazare for quenelle de brochet (pike fish cakes), served with crayfish sauce and Bazmati rice. 

courtesy of Lazare

Lead photo credit : Lazare terrasse. Photo: Yann Deret

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Born in Hampton, Middlesex, UK, Margaret Kemp is a lifestyle journalist, based between London, Paris and the world. Intensive cookery courses at The Cordon Bleu, London, a wedding gift from a very astute ex-husband, gave her the base that would take her travelling (leaving the astute one behind) in search of rare food and wine experiences, such as the vineyards of Thailand, 'gator hunting in South Florida, learning to make eye-watering spicy food in Kerala;pasta making in a tiny Tuscany trattoria. She has contributed to The Guardian, The Financial Times Weekend and FT. How To Spend It.com, The Spectator, Condé Nast Traveller, Food & Travel, and Luxos Magazine. She also advises as consultant to luxury hotels and restaurants. Over the years, Kemp has amassed a faithful following on BonjourParis. If she were a dish she'd be Alain Passard's Millefeuille “Caprice d'Enfant”, as a painting: Manet’s Dejeuner sur l’herbe !