A new entry to the successful, outstanding series Inventing Cuisine
, dedicated to today's greatest French chefs. Includes cooking secrets and other great bonuses: the foie gras tart, mushrooms and citrus fruits, a cooking class, "at the market," and more! Made in France. Subtitled in English. "A table at l'Astrance is the most impossible reservation in France. It's even more difficult than snagging a stool at Ko, if you can imagine such a thing." -- Oliver Strand, Diner's Journal: The New York Times Blog On Dining Out
When Pascal Barbot and Christophe Rohat opened l'Astrance in Fall 2000, chef Barbot's fare took the culinary world by surprise with its freshness, fantasy, and festivity. Eight years and three stars later, the magic is still in the air. The duo has matured, but they haven't lost an ounce of their spontaneity or receptiveness. To get beyond the daily routine at l'Astrance, director Paul Lacoste has chosen to capture the impressions of three young gourmet food buffs; their reactions give us insight into the curious alchemy between the dining room and kitchen, and into the attention and innocence that make this restaurant so unique.
Television is awash in food these days, most of it utterly forgettable, at best (I'm still
having flashbacks from having accidentally watched five minutes of "The Chew"). Want
to see what food on film could really be like? Check out this series of French
documentaries. There are nine of them so far, each focusing on a different three-star
chef, and they are absolutely splendid - maybe the best food programs that have ever
In fact, to call them "food television" is to miss their point. On these videos there is no
shouting, no contrived competition, actually, not even any outsized personalities,
despite the fact that the stars are some of the best, most creative chefs on the planet.
At their cores, these videos by director Paul Cotat are 1-hour mediations on creativity
and imagination, with food being the common medium. If that sounds lofty and
intellectual, well, so be it. But that doesn't mean that the shows aren't also a lot of fun,
albeit in a quiet, contemplative way.
Each documentary is different in theme and in tone, varying with the chef. Michel Bras
walks the stark landscape around his restaurant in Laguiole commenting on the
interplay of light and shadow and suddenly his highly abstract plating comes into focus.
Alain Passard contemplates the simple beauty of a roasted onion. Michel Troisgros
emerges as an almost tragic figure as he repeatedly tries to reinvent dishes made
famous by his pioneering father and uncle. Cotat visits Italian Nadia Santini (the only
non-French chef in the series) starting with an attitude that could be most charitably
described as paternalistic (maybe even condescending?), but comes away utterly
seduced by the way she coaxes complex flavors from simple, perfect ingredients.
This is what real cooking is about when done on the highest level. Yes, there are
recipes, and, yes, there are techniques explained. But what the shows are really about
- and what great cooking is really about - is the human element. Anyone can sauté
eggplant, given the right set of instructions and a little practice. But the ability to turn
that eggplant into art is the province of a very few. --Russ Parsons, Food Editor, LA Times