Chef’s Table: France – My Favourites So Far

The first series was such a hit with viewers that Netflix took to France with their second series of Chef’s Table. The programme has caught our eye, but which dishes have we put pins in?

Admittedly, we are a little late off the blocks with watching Netflix’s Chef’s Table: France. It came recommended by a friend when I mentioned I had run out of things to watch, and being a food blogger, I thought it would make for relevant viewing. At only four hour-long episodes, when one takes an interest, it’s not mentally-exhausting to watch.

It surprises me that they did not start their series in France, especially since when one thinks of the archetypal chef, nationality-wise, one pictures a Frenchman. After all, cookery is one of their better-known arts. The real pros start training typically at 14, but in my opinion, a love of all things culinary starts when one is very young, just as it did with me.

I am two episodes in, and I thought I would put my restaurant critiquing eye to something virtual for a change, and nominate the dishes I would choose should I visit the restaurants of the first two subjects — Alain Passard’s Arpège and Alexandre Couillon’s La Marine. 

EPISODE ONE – Alain Passard – Arpège – Bouquet of Roses (Apple Pie) & Cabbage Tournedos with Chilli Peppers

Alain Passard's Bouquet of Roses Apple Pie

Alain Passard’s Bouquet of Roses Apple Pie

The dessert aptly-named Bouquet of Roses (see pictured) caught my attention with the modern spin it took on such a classic pudding like Apple Pie. The spin being the presentation, in that they are sliced into a single ribbon and re-rolled and placed in the pastry to resemble roses. I have seen rose designs made with tomatoes in the past, but never with apples. The only issue I take with it is the lack of colour that comes as a result – it’s all very brown, no matter how much of a snowing you give it with the icing sugar!

Alain Passard's Cabbage Tournedo with Chilli Peppers

Alain Passard’s Cabbage Tournedo with Chilli Peppers

Quite unlike the close second, Cabbage Tournedo with Chilli Peppers (see pictured). Alain Passard now refrains from serving meat or fish at Arpège; a decision that caused great controversy at the time, but the substitutions he makes with vegetables is quite mind-blowing. A Tournedo is usually several small cuts of beef tenderloin, but Passard has spun this to involve half a cabbage on a bed of sliced chillis.


EPISODE TWO – Alexandre Couillon – La Marine – Erika Oyster (Oyster in Squid Ink topped with Caviar)

I must be honest, I found it very difficult to sympathise with Alexandre Couillon of La Marine when the second episode first started. This is where we see him complaining down the phone about the quality of the scallops he has received. He may well have been within his rights; I don’t know.

Alexandre Couillon's Erika Oyster - an oyster in squid ink topped with caviar

Alexandre Couillon’s Erika Oyster – an oyster in squid ink topped with caviar

The episode focuses more on his development as a restaurateur and not so much on the food, though one dish did strike me, but not on an appetising front, because by most accounts, it isn’t all that easy on the eyes; rather on the story behind it. Inspired partially from an oil spill named Erika which occurred back in 2011, and by a mistake one of Couillon’s interns made whilst preparing squid. This error caused Couillon to recall the oil spill, and so was inspired to dip an oyster in the squid ink, and then layer some caviar over the top. And so the Erika Oyster (see pictured) was born. A slipper dipped in motor oil would look just as pleasing to the eye, but I know I would order it just to say I had, and I would have expectations of wicked saltiness.