When the chef of a three-Michelin-starred restaurant in Paris shares his food haunts in the City of Light, you listen. Chef Eric Frechon—one of France’s most respected culinary minds—stopped in New York City recently to cook for a week at Chefs Club and offered his list of favorite places to AFAR Media. Thanks to Frechon’s extraordinary cooking at Hôtel Le Bristol in Paris, an Oetker Collection hotel, AFAR readers have voted the property as the best hotel for food and wine for three years straight in our Travelers’ Choice Awards.
Born in Normandy, Frechon started working in kitchens at age 13. Since then, he’s been recognized with such honors as Meilleur Ouvrier de France (“best craftsmen of France”—one of the highest honors for craftspeople in the country). Today, he’s responsible for having garnered three Michelin stars for Epicure at Le Bristol and maintained them for the past 10 years. (Le Bristol’s more casual 114 Faubourg, which Frechon also oversees, has one Michelin star). We caught up with him at Chefs Club, where he was creating a special menu for New Yorkers to mark his 20th year of cooking at the hotel. Read on for his perfect day of eating in the City of Light.
Chef Frechon’s comments were translated from the French by Clarisse Ferreres-Frechon.
Courtesy of Hotel Le Bristol Paris
Creations by Hotel Le Bristol pastry chef Julien Alvarez.
Located in the bustling, monument-filled eighth arrondissement, Le Bristol recently built its own working flour mill, making it the first and only hotel in Paris to own one—a significant feat for a city that obsesses over its bread and pastry. Among the most loyal patrons in the city? Frechon himself. “I never have breakfast at home—just a quick coffee—but on weekdays when I arrive at Le Bristol, I often taste a pastry,” says the chef, who sends Epicure guests home with a loaf of house-made bread after their meal. “I have an addiction for the croissants at the hotel. It’s absolutely terrible, but I release guilt by telling myself that I do regular quality control!”
“I never eat lunch during the week because I’m usually nibbling something quickly before service,” says Frechon. So that’s why he takes advantage of his weekends to indulge in midday meals. “Generally, Saturday lunch is really casual and quick, and I love to eat an amazing croque monsieur at La Fontaine de Belleville, or a lobster roll with yuzu mayonnaise at Homer Lobster in St. Germain,” says Frechon. “On Sunday, I usually want something more traditional, and I go to eat a roast chicken at my restaurant, Brasserie Lazare, or a blanquette de veau in a bistro I really love called Au Petit Tonneau.”
As anyone in the restaurant industry can attest, dinner for people who work in the culinary world only happens after restaurant guests leave full and happy. But that also means they know amazing insider spots for late-night dining—and Frechon is no exception. “I love to eat very late after service to get away for a while and to relax,” he says. “I really love Shabour, an Israeli restaurant that belongs to my friends Assaf Granit, Uri Navon, Dan Yosha, and Tomer Lanzmann. This restaurant is absolutely unique, and the food is amazing: It’s a mix between traditional Israeli food and gastronomic French cuisine, with a warm and festive atmosphere.”
When he’s craving something sweet, Frechon admits he has a one-track mind for pastries. But when he wants to truly go all out, he heads to Stohrer, a historic bakery founded by the pastry chef of King Louis XV in 1730 and designed by a student of Paul Baudry (the painter who created the famous ceiling murals at the Opera Garnier). “Stohrer is the oldest pastry shop in Paris,” he says. “Their St. Honoré is the best in town! We always go to Stohrer when we need a cake to celebrate something.” When he’s in the Marais, Frechon also likes to stop in at Bontemps, a pastry shop and teahouse lined with century-old mirrors. “Their Mont Blanc is as beautiful as it is good,” he says.