The City of Light is home to countless passionate chefs for whom cooking is more than a vocation: it is as much a practiced art as it is a livelihood. In France, chefs are revered the way athletes are cheered in the States, or the way the English laud their royals. The selection below highlights the best of both the old and new guards in Paris’s kitchens. Since the 1980s, chefs have put Paris on the map with a compelling, creative, and very personal approach to gastronomy. Today, fresh and vivacious new talents are refreshing the culinary scene with a young generation’s sensibility regarding the once-formal dining experience. Both groups are casting magic with flavor, texture, aroma, and presentation. Depending on where you go, a meal may cost as much as 500€ at the 3-Michelin starred addresses. Of course, even the most sought-after dishes have more affordable iterations. At Inaki Aitzaparte’s latest address, an a la carte menu brings high-concept dining to the masses.
Unlike many of his peers, Inaki Aizpitarte began his career far away from Paris, in the humid kitchens of Tel Aviv. Back in his home country, Aizpitarte is at the helm of a mini-empire that includes a formal, sit-down restaurant, a tapas-style space, and a new wine cellar tucked between the two. Modern French cuisine with international techniques has made Aizpitarte a favorite amongst both gourmands as well as casual diners.
Only 33-years-old, Grébaut transformed from a graphic designer into a critically-acclaimed chef under the tutelage of Alain Passard and Joël Robuchon. After earning a Michelin star for L’Agapé restaurant, Grébaut went on to open three spots of his own, including the famed Septime. Try his neo-French cuisine in standout dishes such as the smoked duck breast salad with foie gras vinaigrette.
Alain Passard has been running his Michelin-starred restaurant for nearly 30 years, and he continues to name nature as his muse. The visionary chef puts the focus on vegetables, grown in his own biodynamic gardens, with dishes such as vegetable tartare or beetroot sushi. His patisseries are also labors of love, with favorite desserts like rhubarb millefeuille.
Another giant on the French dining scene, Pierre Gagnaire set up his namesake, three Michelin-starred Paris flagship in 1996. He is known for a complex and innovative approach to cooking, and his small, shareable plates can be sampled at restaurants across the globe. Head to his second Parisian outpost, Gaya, for an approachable version of Gagnaire’s quintessential avant-garde approach. Sip a glass of wine at the backlit fish scale bar after dinner.