FRÉDÉRIC VARDON : COOKING FROM THE HEART
Par Eric Roux - Le 05/07/2013
A restaurant atmosphere is above all about the welcome, how you are greeted, about asking the person who took the time to walk through your front door, how they are today. Offer them a table that you personally took the time to decorate and set. It is also a setting, an atmosphere; at our place, the 39V, we have an open kitchen. A restaurant should be a place to live, exchange and share.
A place full of humanity. The floor director, the serving staff, cooks, they are all together with me and together we make this restaurant live. I don’t normally quote singers, but Shimen Bady sings of the pleasure about being seated with loved ones around a table. That is the sprit I wish to recreate. Of course, as the son of a butcher and grandson of a farmer, I have very vivid memories of Sunday lunches as a reference to what my restaurant should be.
"Cooking is about a lot more than just recipes" Alain Chapel used to say. We are confronted with a great diversity of guests. We can host businessmen, couples, or families. A table “just to eat” is a reflection of our life, our mental state. It’s all about the pleasure of being together, but also about a conversation that suddenly veers towards to taboo subject somewhere between the roast chicken and the wine. Anything can happen; ships can be sunk around a meal. I have encountered all sorts of events, from a divorce request, because they wanted it to be “done properly”, with a certain elegant flair. I also had a few marriage proposals!
I am not just a number! I learned a great deal at Maison Chapel, a fantastic place. There all the staff lived in the same place, which created a real sense of humanity. And above all, there was Eva Chapel, the mother. It’s there that I realised that the customer is not just a number. Yes, they pay the bill, but before anything else, they chose to enter into a home. They are not just there for a culinary experience, they are there to experience an atmosphere, a moment steeped in affection.
Thanks to Alain Chapel, Alain Dutournier and Alain Ducasse, I learned that cooking was basically all about the relationship between a chef and his suppliers. This is my true passion.
Ah, Jerome’s asparagus! A few weeks ago, I bumped into Jérôme Galis, and I could see just by the look on his face that his asparagus were coming in. Every year, it’s like a birth for him. I did not wait till the right season to buy them, even though they are a bit expensive. I support him, and I owe it to myself to provide his produce in my restaurant. And by buying his production this year guaranties that next year, he will still be here, providing us with his exceptional crop. Jerome’s asparagus are a product of where they were grown, in a micro region, very well protected, in Provence, where a touch of cold is necessary to help the first shoots appear in March (Mr Galis’s asparagus were delivered to 39V on March 28th-Editors note).
I get my chickens from M. Godard in Dordogne. This breeder runs his own slaughterhouse and sells on markets in Paris (Parc Floral 06 11 65 99 31 and Enfants Rouges 06 72 00 16 41). The fact that he makes the effort to come to Paris to sell his chicken weighing between 2.5 kg and 3 kg, is important to me. It takes a heavy commitment to offer this whole, roasted chicken, when the customer must wait 45 minutes of cooking time, before enjoying it.
When I worked with Alain Dutournier he served hams of Chalosse, just as great as some of the fashionable hams. A restaurant owner must share his knowledge and its products. It is not just there to put season a dish, he is also there to showcase a region, spotlight the local produce.
A story of great encounters. I do my own sourcing with the help of a passionate associate, Nicolas Le Tirand. Until very recently, we bought our organic eggs from Rungis. Nicolas, who lives in Boulogne, would go meet Denfert, a producer of gigantic organic eggs. Guess whose eggs we still serve today? Everything is about chance encounters, of shared passions.
Naming our suppliers on our menu could be the same message carried by Tous au Restaurant. If your guest is our guest, it is also to invite the guest to discover exceptional produce. You know, for me, this event is a perfect occasion to show that cooking is not always standardised. Cooking is all about diversity. Our profession, restaurateur, is sometimes inaccessible, and Tous au Restaurant is here to provide the possibility for certain people who may not normally have the opportunity, to come visit us. «Your guest is our guest », is our motto, but far from a discount addition. We are in no way or form doing discount menus with second-rate produce. If our menu says turbo, we will not replace it with dogfish!
In 2008, Frédéric VARDON meets his current associates with whom he created Corfou. The very first year, right in the heart of Gennevilliers, the first restaurant Zinc is born Projects fly at a dizzying rate: in September 2010, restaurant 39V restaurant, the company flagship, perched on the 6th and last floor of a Haussmann building, located at 39 avenue à George V in Paris. In 2011, the restaurant ‘Zinc Des Neiges” is launched in the very chic ski resort, Courchevel. In 2012, in the Quartier Opera in Paris, a take away Feliz and a third contemporary bistro, Zinc, is launched.
www.fredericvardon.com - 39V - 39 avenue Georges V, Paris 8ème