The Paris gallery space of a Michelin-starred chef

From collaged plates to silver truffles – and a giant bronze lobster

Image: © Bernhard Winkelmann

Tasting superchef Alain Passard’s exquisite seasonal dishes is always a joy. Made with dawn-gathered vegetables from his three organic vegetable gardens – each chosen for its specific type of soil and using no tractors, just horse-drawn ploughs – the food at his three-Michelin-star restaurant at Arpège always impresses me. At one time Passard famously banned meat from his menus, but lamb, poultry and game in season are once again in favour.

Image: © Thierry Bouet

I try to visit Arpège and the nearby Rodin Museum at least twice a year. Sometimes, I see Passard sketching in the museum’s magnificent sculpture garden, for while many know of his culinary talents, he also has many artistic ones. As a child in Brittany he would spend hours colouring and making collages. “This passion for collage and painting has never left me –there’s a continuous link between my recipes and my illustrations,” he explains, and his restaurant is punctuated with sculptures and drawings – an iconic portrait of his grandmother, who taught him to cook, takes place of honour outside the kitchen.

Advertisement

His plates, too, display his artworks, with a little help from Brittany-based manufacturers Henriot-Quimper. Four dinner plates (€250 for the set, or €70 each, first picture) feature his collages of fruit and vegetables, designed to complement his 2012 recipe book The Art of Cooking with Vegetables (published by Frances Lincoln, €29), which has 48 recipes all beautifully illustrated by Passard. I acquired a set of plates for my birthday (“Do not put them in the dishwasher,” he warned) and they are perfect for when I want to make, say, his “summer mosaic of green vegetables” (July-September), “tale of pumpkin and beetroot” (September-November) or avocado soufflés with dark chocolate (October-January).

Image: © Thierry Bouet

But Passard’s creative journey doesn’t end there. “My office was becoming too crowded with my pieces, so I decided to take on an empty boutique just around the corner from the restaurant and create my own art space,” he explains. Called L’Arrière Cuisine (“butler’s pantry”), it is a showcase for vibrant creations. In the window, looming large and luscious, is a giant lobster cast in bronze (second picture). For Passard, technique, like taste, constitutes a lifelong learning curve. “With the help of blacksmiths from the Art de la Plaine foundry in St Denis, I was able to cast my giant lobster in bronze, taking my work to new heights – and here it is in my gallery, 2.5m high!” His other sculptures include bronze frogs and sea spiders, and chunky truffles in dark silver (third picture), and there are also a few works by friends. Everything, apart from the plates and cookery books, is price on request, because Passard likes to know where the pieces are going and discuss accordingly.

Advertisement

See also

Advertisement
Loading