Once Upon a Table
By Richard Nahem, Eye Prefer Paris , December 2012
Ever since The Hidden Kitchen launched in 2007, the concept of community dining with strangers has taken Paris by storm. Similar types of events have sprung up all over the city and many new cafes, restaurants, and coffee bars have long, community tables, begging you to not quite love thy neighbor, but at least possibly strike up a conversation with them.
I was invited to the newest version of this concept last week called Once Upon a Table and it took place on a sleekly converted barge on the Seine on the Quai Montebello in the Latin Quarter. I arrived near 8PM and found most of the 13 participants mingling on the deck of the boat. I was first struck by the awesome night view of Notre Dame all lit up. [...]
The thing that sets apart Once Upon a Table is that it gives an historical background about the foods you are tasting and how certain popular dishes came to be what they are today. [...]
Max, who was our chef for the evening, trained with Alain Passard at l’Arpege, and Laserre with Christopher Moret, and currently works at the George V hotel. His highly regarded training grounds have paid off handsomely, because the food was excellent, well executed, and thoughtfully prepared. Each course was special and could stand on its own yet the combination of the flavors and courses worked terrific together for a well rounded, satisfying dining experience. I see a bright future for this talented chef. [...]
This was a fun and educational experience and I highly recommend Once Upon a Table if you want an out of the ordinary dining event.
For now dinners are scheduled on Monday nights, which is great because many of the better restaurants close on Monday.
La Péniche and Le Foodist
Every once in awhile someone comes up with a really great concept and I tip my hat to Fred Pouillot for his creation of Le Foodist. An evening with Fred will open doors to french culture through food and wine by offering unique taste experiences accompanied by entertaining stories on history, culture, food and wine. Sharing Fred’s passion for food and his knowledge will bring you to a new level of dining appreciation.
The current home for Le Foodist is the adorable péniche, Bateau Daphné, just by the Batobus (or water taxi) stop for Notre Dame called Quai Montebello. This was my first time on a péniche which is one of the flat bottom barges commonly seen on the Seine. The top deck of the boat serves as a delightful starting point for an aperitif with first rate views of Notre Dame. As chilly as it has been in Paris, it was difficult to leave the beauty of the Seine and Notre Dame and descend into the warm cozy dining salon.
While this is such a nice review it is almost embarassing ... we encourage you to read the full article on the Bonjour Paris Website
French Culture through Food & Wine
By Heather Stimmler Hall, Secrets of Paris , October 2012
As a tour guide, I try and recount the history Paris in a way that provides context for my clients so that they understand why it’s important. Just shooting off a long list of kings and dates and battles leaves people more confused than anything. The “why” often goes unanswered (if it’s asked at all). With food and wine, most people think it’s fine as long as it’s good. But I disagree. And so does Fred of Le Foodist, a new dining and wine tasting experience where guests “Discover Culture Through Food”. After living in many different countries around the world (including the US, where he met his British wife), this Frenchman has returned home eager to share his culture with English-speaking visitors through his Daring Pairings (wine pairings with cheese, chocolate, etc) and Once Upon A Table (5-course meals with wine), prepared by an expert chef aboard a boat moored at the foot of Notre Dame. Instead of telling you what you’re eating and how it was made, he tells you the history behind the classic French dishes and wines. I learned more about the origins of French food in one meal than I knew after living here for 17 years! And don’t think that it’s all dry academia. Fred and his sommelier Stephan create a fun, informal, and welcoming atmosphere, making us laugh with their anecdotes and memorable explanations.
The Daring Parings are at 6pm on Mondays, the Once Upon a Table at 8pm on Mondays; bookings are only open to about 12 participants to keep things intimate. If you’re interested in being one of the first guests, reservations open to the public in mid-November. Cooking and pastry classes will eventually be added to the calendar as well.