This time, we are not going to visit a gastronomy institution with decades of glorious history, but a new trendy place which skyrocketed quite suddenly .
Here comes L’Acajou, the restaurant owned by young Chef Jean Imbert, the new prodigy of French cuisine, considered the most talented winner in the history of Top Chef , 1 star Michelin since this year. Many international stars fall for his cuisine, including Robert de Niro , Beyonce , Jay Z and many others.
In France, Top Chef has quickly become an institution in the competitive world of Haute Cuisine. Most contestants are seasoned chefs or Michelin starred chefs (1 star) . Nothing to compare with the Aussie, US versions, where.. .sorry to say so, and the level is much lower in terms of refinement and presentation.
The Top Chef France jury is only composed of 2 to 3 stars Michelin chefs like Christian Constant or Thierry Marx. All along the competition, the contestants are evaluated by the same level of Chefs, sometimes a panel of them.
No kidding. You generally cannot win if you are not a seasoned professional chef. Usually working in a starred restaurant is a plus. (But not always, as the 2015 genial young winner showed. He was only an apprentice… in a 2 stars restaurant.)
When Jean Imbert took part to the Top Chef France contest in season 3 , he already owned l’Acajou, with its strange pictures of naked women. He impressed everybody and started to raise attention with a fruits creation he did during a test organised by Pastry Chef Christiophe Michalak ( World champion of Pastry and Pastry Chef at the Plaza Athenee Hotel).
Chef Michalak was puzzled by the look of the fruits salad ( a big rectangle on a plate) but delighted by its taste and fascinated by the details . It looked like a painting, and French » Michelin level » chefs demand such kind of refinement. Chefs use kitchen tweezers to assemble such kind of dish.
Jean Imbert shot to fame almost instantly after winning the season , then winning twice the Top Chef- Winners Tournament ( the winner battles the previous year’s winner during a 2 hour-long live cuisine contest).
Many stars started to visit his restaurant, including foreign stars. The first one to show up was Robert de Niro, then quickly we saw Pharell Williams , Beyonce and Jay Z on social media , where Jean is very active. As for French stars, Jean Imbert found a first admirer in Gerard Depardieu, our bon vivant number one…
Unlike many chefs, the edgy Jean Imbert is a chef who mingles easily with all kinds of stars. He also dated a former Miss France, and as per the latest rumours, he has been dating a young actress. He considers his mentor to be Chef Paul Bocuse.
Jean Imbert has quite a taste in design. You will not see the usual interior design , like in Le Taillevent. Jean likes edgy and flashy things.
The experience starts outside. You cannot miss the strange pictures and checkers patterns. No al fresco tables, it looks like a nightclub.
Inside, the show continues with a decoration regularly modified. The interior design was made by Jean Imbert and architect Pascal Desprez. Inside, a chic dining hall with a bar.
Jean is likely to modify his interior design quite regularly with surprising results. I remember seeing naked ladies walking forward on the wall. It was a giant picture by Helmut Newton, I think.
The plates are special too.
Pharell Williams is pretty happy with them.
Jean Imbert is the kind of chef who wants to remain accessible to his patrons, especially when they are famous. He is often around and he can even invite people in his kitchen. Below, French actor Roschdy Zem steps in for a cooking showcase.
His carte will include famous Top Chef creations of his, like the fruits salad, but he will change his carte with the season. Like all the « artist » chefs nowadays, Chef Imbert likes to propose a limited menu with top level season ingredients twisted by his personal creativity, rather than the same classical French dishes all year long.
Lunch menu is 40 euros and Dinner menu at 70, much less than the other restaurants I introduced previously. Jean increased his rates after winning Top Chef.
You may give it a try if you are curious. I am not sure you will rub shoulders with celebs every day, but who knows. You are quite likely to run into Chef Jean Imbert or his second, Juan, another Top Chef contestant he hired after the show.
Jean Imbert finally won a star at the Michelin Guide 2015, he is now a certified chef star, not only a famous chef cooking for stars. You may visit his Twitter account.
NB- This post is not sponsored by any brand , person or corporation mentioned.
L’Acajou, 35 bis, rue de La Fontaine 75016 Paris ( Metro Jasmin)
( 12h-14h30 et 19h30-22h30 ). Closed on Saturdays lunchtime, Sundays.