Éric Frechon by Éric Frechon
Éric Frechon is old-school French culinary royalty. You may have heard his name in connection with the Lanesborough London, where he is consultant chef to the one-Michelin-starred Céleste restaurant. But his heart belongs to Paris, where he worked at Taillevent, La Tour d’Argent and Hôtel de Crillon before heading up the kitchen of Le Bristol Paris, where he has held three Michelin stars since 2009 and where a starter of caviar with Ratte potato mousseline fetches a cool €150 (£130).
That dish is included in this opulent tome as one of just 60 recipes. With a cover price of nearly £50, that means you’re getting about half the usual amount of recipes for roughly twice the average price, which cynics might say is business as usual for a three-star chef. But if you do shell out, be prepared to be delighted and frustrated by turns.
Benoît Linero’s dense, brooding images of Frechon’s dishes owe more to Renaissance painting than modern food photography – and they are breathtaking – but the decision to not show all the dishes as they are served in the restaurant is irksome, despite the inclusion of plating instructions.
The recipes are inspiring (you’ll want to jump on the next Eurostar to Paris to eat the signature macaroni au gratin stuffed with truffle, artichoke and foie gras), but sometimes lack detail. If you want to know how Frechon makes truffle jus, chicken stock or vegetable nage, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
The rather florid foreword by French food critics François-Régis Gaudry and Emmanuel Rubin provides some insight into the creative process. Frechon describes to them how he took the French classic of hare à la royale and developed it into a soup. It’s fascinating, but you are left wanting more. It’s galling to read that the pair had “many meandering conversations” with Frechon that could have provided much-needed introductions to the recipes.
With a number of cookbooks already to his name, this self-titled volume is meant to constitute Frechon’s ‘culinary manifesto’. At a skimpy 160 pages, it falls short of being that, but does paint a decent portrait of a French fine-dining chef at the top of his game.
By Andy Lynes
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