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Lucas Carton → Alain Senderens


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There are three very important dishes created at Lucas-Carton that you need to have under your gastronomic belt. Steamed Cabbage Leaves wrapped around Foie gras, Lobster in Vanilla Sauce, and Canard Apicius which is a duck roasted in a sweat and sour spice paste mixture served in a date sauce. Once upon a time (15 years ago,) these dishes were at the top of the gastronomic heap. Today they can be a little tired to those of us who have moved past this type of cuisine. The kitchen at L-C also varies in the intensity in which these dishes come out of the kitchen. But when they are prepared well, these three dishes are staggeringly good.

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  • 2 months later...

I've seen some recent favorable comments on Lucas Carton, which lead me to a little reminiscing.

For those of you who have no interest in how some of these prominent joints have evolved, skip this post, its not for you.

Before Senderens took over Lucas Carton, he had his own 2 star place on what is known as Embassy Row(near the Rodin museum). I went there before he had attained any real eminence. His specialty was eel(many bones)- not to my liking. But he had an appetizer the likes of which I had never tasted before or since. The best of all time in my book. It was a mousse of sole, surrounded by a green sauce of some sort. We were blown away by it. When we left, I asked the Madam(I assume it was his wife, a charming lady)if the mousse would be on the menu the next time we came.She said not to worry, if it wasnt they would be only too happy to make it for us specially.

This was before Senderens became a celebrity.

A year or two later we returned to Paris and I called for a reservation. I was not aware that Senderens had become a person of prominence. I asked if they still had the mousse of sole on the menu. The reply was in the negative. I then said that I would like to have it made specially.I was told that that was out of the question. I said that Madam had assured me i t would be done. I was told , in effect, that I was wasting their time with this nonsense. Of course, I told them what they could do with my reservation and their whole restaurant.

Shortly afterwards Senderens bought(or was backed) Lucas Carton.

Lucas Carton had a long and honorable history. It was a 2 star. Everything there was top quality. Their specialty was woodcock. I never had it because it was never in season when I was there. Has anyone had the woodcock? Pirate? Anyone?It was very ornate, red plush seats or banquettes, a wonderful restaurant. But it had fallen on hard times and had few diners.And evidently Senderens was able to negotiate some sort of deal and he jumped in there.And of course tripled the prices.

I've never been there since he took over and , of course, never will be.

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Cyn, Senderens (Restaurant L'Archestrate) was where Arpege is now on Rue Varenne, a few blocks west of Boulevard Raspail. He received his third star in 1978 and took it with him in 1986 to Lucas-Carton. I only had his food one time, around 1978 or 1979. It was a very good meal; nice and intimate perhaps because our colleague's girlfriend knew Senederens quite well. I haven't been to Lucas Carton and never felt the desire to do so. I suspect the thrill is gone like a lot of other three star restaurants in France.

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I suspect the thrill is gone like a lot of other three star restaurants in France.

Care to elaborate? I assume you mean that the thrill of eating at three star restaurants is less than it used to be, for you at least, and not that the restaurants are gone. Is the thrill of eating French food gone at all other levels as well. If so, is it gone at all levels because it's changed or because you've changed? Another reason may be that you've found more exciting food elsewhere in a place that previously didn't have exciting food or in a place you hadn't explored. Clearly from your posts elsewhere on the site, you still find it thrilling to eat.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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...  a little reminiscing.

For those of you who have no interest in how some of these prominent joints have evolved, skip this post,

Thanks for both warnings. :biggrin: I think we can't be all things to all people, but, for me at least, personal reminiscing is often what makes eGullet interesting. The lore that surrounds food may not be as interesting as eating itself, but it's all interesting to me. I suspect the interest quotient varies by subject matter as well as how well a story is told. We'll each have our own standards. Anyway, I enjoyed your post.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Cyn: Since you asked I have never found woodcock on the menu of any of the restaurants I visited. I have eaten at Lucas-Carton under Senderens several times. It is classically formal. The meals are very good with an occasional high point. The most memorable dish was a ravioli of coquille St. Jacques. Interestingly,earlier, that dish was served by Alan Passard when he was at the Carlton in Brussels (just prior to starting Arpege at Senderens old site) and it was equally memorable. Unfortunately the wine was a Pouilly Fuisse' made in the California style with high alcohol and residual sugar and it clashed.

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Bux, do I have to elaborate all over again? Why not; there are a lot of new faces on the site since the last time.

If I had to quantify it, I would say that the thrill being gone (but not forgotten) is 25% me and 75% them. Anyway, the thrill is not 100% gone. It just takes a lot more effort to be thrilled. It's also a different kind of thrill that I look for in France now; the more unexpected, the more simple such as a new cheese (new to me) that I makes me jump for joy or a perfectly-prepared classical dish in a simple restaurant. At the high end, though, I had great meals recently at Arpege and Ledoyen. So all is not over for me. But like you, I have become enthusiastic about dining in Spain. El Bulli and Can Fabes have brought me closer to the excitement I felt most recently at Michel Bras and Marc Veyrat in the mid-1990s than any place else. In fact we are going back to Barcelona in early July and intending to visit, at last, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and the handful of high-profile restaurants in and around San Sebastian.

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Bux, do I have to elaborate all over again?

No, but I thought you were primed to add a bit more. :biggrin:

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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CyN, I wonder what the response would have been had it been passed on to Madame. I do think this may be have been a clash of cultural and personal differences with a very unfortunate outcome if you do indeed never intend to dine at Lucas Carton because of it.

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  • 4 months later...

I was just accepted as a stagiaire here yesterday and am starting my second day of work today. So far the kitchen environment reminds me mostly of Rest. Gary Danko's kitchen, but with a more international cooks, and in french (obviously). Has anyone had the chance to eat here? What did you think of the experience? As a cook I can't afford to dine at as many places as I'd like to, and am still hurting for cash with the plane ticket here, etc.

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Hey! Congratulations on your stage - and welcome to eGullet! We'll have to compare notes sometime - I'm staging at ADPA. I have not yet dined at LC - or ADPA for that matter - but plenty of people here have - do a search and you'll see the threads. Don't even talk to me about hurting for cash - I've been here for over a year now - at least four more months to go.

What did you do at GD? What are you doing at LC? How long? Any Cordon Bleu stagiaires there right now? And do you bake your own breads there? I ask because our gastro boulanger thought the food was good recently, but the bread inedible - I told him he might be biased.

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oscubic, welcome to eGullet. I hope you can make good use of our forums, especially this one. In turn, I hope we can make good use of you. It would be great to hear about what goes on behind the swinging doors at LC.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I dined with my wife at LC over Valentine's weekend. We thought the food was excellent, although there were a couple of errors in service (they were very apologetic and it did not affect our dinner.) Speaking as an american, I appreciated the wine pairings with the entrees, as the quality of the wines by the glass is better than you would find in the U.S. (1990 Beaucastel was my wife's pairing w/lamb). I had the venison and thought the accompanying sauce was extremely rich and satisfying (rich venison stock with port, if I recall correctly.) Of course, the dining room is gorgeous (I love Art Nouveau) and the location is great as well. We would certainly return, but have a few other places we would like to try first (Gagnaire, Guy Savoy, ADPA, etc.) If I go back, I would definitely try the Apicius duck.

"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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ok, here are some impressions after completing my first full week of work:

1) 70 hours of work per week is tiring

2) lots of foam for cream based sauces

3) great staff meal (important because most of my waking hours are spent here)

4) it would be nice to know what they're yelling at me in french

I've been the commis for the hot apps station, doing a lot of the mise en place, plating during service, and dressing a salad of cepe mushrooms that goes with the trio of cepes plate. There's a risotto topped with cepe foam which is good but the addition of minced ginger just doesn't work for me. The presentations coming from the meat and fish stations are really beautiful.

loufood: Why so long at ADPA? I staged at GD for a week until I decided that paying bay bridge toll and then $10 parking to work for free wasn't really worth it. Was a good experience still though. I'm here at LC for 3 months. I suspect that they might start paying by the end of the period but I've got people and hopefully a job at Chez Panisse waiting for me when I get back home. They do bake their own bread here and I agree, a little too long under the heatlamp and it becomes an unsweetened biscotti. I saw one Cordon Bleu stagiaire here on the pastry side but still haven't been able to connect too many names with faces yet.

mikeycook: Staff meal comes with the opened wines, although with the older reds it's all undecanted sludge.

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oscubic, what's been your favourite staff meal so far? And nah, you really don't want to know what they're yelling at you in French!

And sorry about misunderstanding - I'm at ADPA for total of four months - 2 more months there to go. I can't believe I've been in Paris now for 15 months - did 9 months time at Cordon Bleu. And good luck on getting paid - that would be a huge deal. They should now be paying you a base stagiaire salary - but most places don't - but definitely you should be getting reimbursed for transport - usually half your Carte Orange if they're not, ask, they won't offer it up. And obviously they're not sticking to the 35 hour work week rule either - the norm. Don't tell me they really put their bread under heat lamps! Told my gastro boulanger and he said it didn't matter that it was warm - it still wasn't good - told him he's biased again! :biggrin: I may know your CB pastry stagiaire - I finished CB end of May so I still have friends staging - so please say hi for me.

We get all-you-can-drink wine at the Plaza too - but you can't work drunk!

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So my initial excitement about working here has quickly waned and I'm beginning to reconsider. I already knew that French chefs yell a lot and I could handle them calling my slightly imperfect food "MERDE!" and occasionally throwing them against the wall. But the last few shifts I've worked in addition to the usual yelling they've begun to forcefully shove me (irksome when a "behind/attention" call would suffice, downright infuriating when done in conjunction with being called an idiot because I can't understand everything they say). I'm reminded of something Alfred Portale said (in _Becoming a Chef_ if I'm not mistaken) about the main thing he learned working in France was how not to run a kitchen, with his chefs telling him "This is shit, you're a shit, and you'll never be a chef", etc etc. Now I've worked in some dysfunctional abusive kitchen environments, but when it starts becoming physical and personal I feel lines have been crossed. I know that my work there has been up to par, ahead of some of the other stagiaires but behind some who have been there almost a year now, but I think that my poor command of the language has singled me out for some of the chef's misdirected temper problems. /vent off

So......

I'm leaning towards not going back to work tomorrow, but what do you guys think? I know it'd look good on the resume but I'm beginning to convince myself that the free time I'd have to go around and sample the regional cuisines of Europe might be more educational and much more enjoyable than my current situation.

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Welcome to the world of three-star kitchens. What do I think? You should know what I think - get back there. You've been there - what - two weeks now? And you're there for three months? Piece o' cake. Here's the game - you take what they give you for a month - yes, sir, may I please have another. And then after that you fight back - after one full month you've earned the right. After a month, if someone pushes you, you push back and shout "Attention!" Lines crossed? Oh they're not even close yet - this is France.

Good luck - watch your back.

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Do they shove you around too, Louisa? Where's crossing the line for you? If a teacher or conductor had ever done that to me, I would have dropped the teacher and walked out on the conductor, with complaints as appropriate (and I've never ever walked out on a rehearsal or lesson). These things are strictly out-of-bounds in the music world. But I guess cooks have some kind of hazing culture? Why is it acceptable to be literally pushed around? I'm thinking about the New Jersey high school students who were charged with sticking pine cones, some kind of sticks and other stuff up underclassmen's asses in a football hazing ritual. They may face 20 years for assault, I think. Alright; I know this isn't nearly the scale of what we're talking about here, but just when did it become acceptable for people to be physically attacked on the job? (Forever, OK, but is the only reason it's put up with that "that's the way it's always been"?)

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Hi Pan, yep, they shoved me around too - being an American girl and all. Definitely not as much were I a guy, but yes. Especially since I started in pastry and pastry kitchens tend to be smaller - you get a lot of people rushing around, working elbow to elbow, fridge doors and cabinets at everyone's knee-level and there's bound to be some - even polite - pushing aside. What's crossing the line for me is any kind of deliberate physical contact that can't even be remotely masked as par for the course in working in a close environment. Yeah, in these kitchens, there's a constant hazing culture - especially for Americans whom are considered soft and spoiled - but most harsh amongst the French themselves. It's acceptable to be pushed around because it's a very physical, close-quartered environment. Uh, no - not nearly as bad as those high school kids! What the hell?! And it's not quite physical attacks - that's the problem, the grey area. But let me make clear that outright physical attacks do not need to be tolerated - you leave the situation and go to the next in command - on up the line as needed - take it to the training director if necessary - but in the kitchen - if you want to be part of this game - you try to keep it in the kitchen.

oscubic, the personal stuff - you just have to ignore that. The physical - you literally need a thick skin - but like I said, you have recourse. And I forgot to ask - who's doing the shoving? If it's other stagiaires, no way do you take it at all - shove back now. Apprentices too. Commis - yeah, but more discretely. Anyone else higher up, you just have to take it - unless like I said it's an outright attack - then take it up with your sous-chef first.

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