Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.




François Simon

In the kitchen with François Simon

by André Gayot

The “sprinkler gets sprinkled” was the title of one of the first movies ever produced by the Lumière brothers credited for the invention of the cinema. A Parisian food critic has experienced the actuality of this moral and eternal story: don’t do to others what you wouldn’t want them to do to you.


The Paris foodie establishment is abuzz with the mishap of François Simon, known for his frequent bashing of the top chefs in a Paris newspaper. “These guys,” he contends, “think they are untouchable because of their star status. It’s healthy to debunk them off their pedestal.” However, the critic is also a strong supporter of a movement dubbed “Foodism” which aims to rejuvenate the French cuisine but so far has a hard time getting off the ground, because many say they don’t understand what “Foodism” is about. To abate the general skepticism, Simon announced in his blog that he would demonstrate the merits of “Foodism” by publicly preparing in a restaurant such a “Foodist” based meal. When the verdict was out, the media stated that there were no kudos from the public nor from the critics for Simon’s undertaking. No breakthrough yet for “Foodism” seems to be the consensus and no star for the apprentice chef. Of course, you don’t need to be a screenwriter or a director to write about films, but if you are not, maybe it’s better not to try to be one, especially if you tend to use a sword as a pen. Take it easy, François.


For the record, at the start of his career thirty eight years ago, Simon was an intern at the “Nouveau Guide Magazine” founded by Henri Gault, Christian Millau and I. Small world, indeed.





Legendary French pastry chef Gaston Lenôtre

Legendary French pastry chef Gaston Lenôtre

by André Gayot

In the late 1960s, Yves Bridault, the chief editor of Le Nouveau Guide Gault-Millau that we founded with my friends, used to visit his aging mother on Sundays. Prior to ringing her bell, he would stop nearby at a small pastry shop.

The young pastry chef had just arrived from his native Normandy and was trying to make his way in Paris. Yves liked the gâteaux this chef was creating and wrote about him in the magazine. Rapidly, the chef’s reputation rose beyond the limits of the 16th arrondissement. Soon, his pâtisserie was filled with gourmets rushing to taste his creations and Gaston Lenôtre acquired well deserved renown as one of the best pastry chefs in Paris. Forty years later, that talented young pâtissier was the head of a worldwide empire of pastry shops and restaurants (Le Café Lenôtre) which included the U.S.
His ambassadors to America was Michel Richard (Michel Richard Citronelle, Central Michel Richard, Citrus at Social, Citronelle by Michel Richard), who hoisted himself to the rank of the best chef in the nation.


Gaston Lenôtre, who was the arm of “Nouvelle Cuisine” for pastry (which he made lighter and tastier according to the nouvelle philosophy), passed away this Thursday. We mourn a great innovator and, even more, a friend.



Sophie Gayot with chefs Sylvain Rivet of Amuse Bouche, Sebastien Pfeiffer of Sofitel LA and Akira Hirose of Maison Akira

by Sophie Gayot

The Beaujolais Nouveau has arrived in America, as it does every year in late November. One of the celebrations took place last night at the prestigious Royce Hall on the UCLA campus.

Last night when I got there, a little late I admit, the response  was so great that the young wine had already been poured. But fortunately, I had a tasting the day before.

Read our impressions here.

The food was provided by the chefs from The Club Culinaire of French Cuisine.

Birthday in High Style

on November 13th, 2008
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Chef Yannick Alléno with Sophie Gayot

Chef Yannick Alléno with Sophie Gayot

by Sophie Gayot

The Dorchester Collection, which includes the
Plaza Athénée in Paris,
Le Meurice,
The Dorchester in London,
The Beverly Hills Hotel
and the Hotel Principe di Savoia in Milan,
has taken over the Hotel Bel-Air, located in one of the most exclusive cities in the world.

This week, chef Yannick Alléno from Le Meurice had prepared a series of lunches and dinners for a lucky few at the hotel’s restaurant. Yesterday, I attended one of his lunches and, for the first time, (as I have dined here many times before) I enjoyed an “haute cuisine” experience. In short, this was the best meal I ever had in Stone Canyon, and one of the best of the year. Continue reading “Birthday in High Style” »

Soeurs Chocolat book talk

on November 11th, 2008
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Tomorrow I will be attending a book discussion held by L’Alliance Francaise de Los Angeles with author Catherine Velle. Catherine, a French fiction author and communications manager at Marie Claire, is well known for her thriller novels Le Silence des Sources and La Vallée des Mensonges.  

Her new book, Soeurs Chocolat, promises to be just as exciting.

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