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Lucas Carton → Alain Senderens


Mao
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Nope. Temple to gastronomy isn't gramatically correct. But whatever.

Anti-alcoholics are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so corrosive that out of all substances it has been chosen for washing and scouring, and a drop of water added to a clear liquid like Absinthe, muddles it." ALFRED JARRY

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Taillevent is probably the establishment that fits the bill most correctly having had three stars for more than 30 years now,but I've also had excellent meals at Guy Savoy, Arpege, Grand Véfour, Relais d'Auteuil, Michel Rostang, Jamin, Les Magnolias, Astrance, L'Ami Louis, and numerous others. I hesitate, myself, actually, to name any of these establishments personally, "temples", I was actually just correcting the grammar of the aforementionned post.

Edited by fresh_a (log)

Anti-alcoholics are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so corrosive that out of all substances it has been chosen for washing and scouring, and a drop of water added to a clear liquid like Absinthe, muddles it." ALFRED JARRY

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  • 5 months later...

François Simon reports in the Figaro this morning that, next Tuesday, Alain Senderens gives up the three-star rating he's had for the past 28 years in the Michelin Red Guide. He'll be turning the Lucas Carton into a "brasserie de luxe".

Here's the link (in French).

Edited by fresh_a (log)

Anti-alcoholics are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so corrosive that out of all substances it has been chosen for washing and scouring, and a drop of water added to a clear liquid like Absinthe, muddles it." ALFRED JARRY

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De luxe indeed!

Il fermera cet été pour travaux et rouvrira à la rentrée avec une carte revue de fond en comble avec des tarifs divisés par trois, c'est-à-dire 100 euros.

He will close this summer for renovations and will reopen with a 100-euro menu. We

are told that that will be 1/3 the price of the current menu, but it's still pretty damned expensive - more than the lunch menu at Grand Vefour, no? But perhaps more interestingly, from the viewpoint of a New Yorker, I think of the closure of La Cote Basque and its reopening as LCB Brasserie Rachou, an expensive brasserie de luxe itself (though probably a bit less than 100 euros). Your thoughts?

Here's another interesting excerpt:

Il devrait dans cette logique remettre ses trois étoiles[...]et quitter la scène hautement stressante de la compétition gastronomique. Il est comme beaucoup de chefs qui vivent de plus en plus mal d'être jugés chaque année par un guide[...]dont ils ne connaissent toujours pas les critères.

He would logically have to give up his three stars...and quit the highly stressful stage of gastronomic competition. He is like many chefs who live worse and worse from being judged every year by a guide...whose criteria they do not always know. The article goes on to say that at 65, Senderens wants to relax, cook, and breathe a little. I think he's earned the right to do what he likes. Not long ago, it was expected that everyone would retire on reaching 65. I doubt Chef Senderens needs wishes of luck, but I'm sure he will have a lot of fun with his brasserie.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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He'll probably start operating deeply in the black for the first time in 28 years.

Good for him.

Having to kowtow to a rating system takes the joy and pleasure out of cooking.

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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And I had naively thought his rather remarkable prices (e.g. EUR 205 for lobster with "its glass of wine"* - both superlative, I am sure!) had kept him nicely in the black already...

*http://petitcolas.net/fabien/restaurants/LucasCarton-2.jpg

Charles Milton Ling

Vienna, Austria

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He'll probably start operating deeply in the black for the first time in 28 years.

Good for him.

Having to kowtow to a rating system takes the joy and pleasure out of cooking.

I do not know why you assume that all top restaurants operate in the red. It is just not the case. Check out for yourself on Societe.com. The financial figures for Lucas Carton are here. As you can see it has been quite profitable the last four years or so. Many of the three star restaurants are literally gold mines. Michel Bras, l'Arpege, l'Ambroisie to mention a few are exceptionally profitable businesses.

In my mind Lucas Carton has been one of the underperforming three stars for years. The last meal I had approx. a year ago was very expensive but only a 15/20 on my rating. The performance was consistent with previous meals during the nineties.

I do agree that the chase of the ratings can be a problem, but seriously, most three star chefs would prefer having the three stars because of the revenues and the result on the bottom line.

When my glass is full, I empty it; when it is empty, I fill it.

Gastroville - the blog

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I do not know why you assume that all top restaurants operate in the red. It is just not the case. Check out for yourself on Societe.com. The financial figures for Lucas Carton are here. As you can see it has been quite profitable the last four years or so. Many of the three star restaurants are literally gold mines. Michel Bras, l'Arpege, l'Ambroisie to mention a few are exceptionally profitable businesses.

I do not know why you assume that I make this assumption. Most do not operate deeply in the black. A few three stars are goldmines, most are not, many operate in the red.

A three star that goes more casual "brasserie de luxe" has a high likelyhood of turning into a cash cow.

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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I do not know why you assume that all top restaurants operate in the red. It is just not the case. Check out for yourself on Societe.com. The financial figures for Lucas Carton are here. As you can see it has been quite profitable the last four years or so. Many of the three star restaurants are literally gold mines. Michel Bras, l'Arpege, l'Ambroisie to mention a few are exceptionally profitable businesses.

I do not know why you assume that I make this assumption. Most do not operate deeply in the black. A few three stars are goldmines, most are not, many operate in the red.

A three star that goes more casual "brasserie de luxe" has a high likelyhood of turning into a cash cow.

I have seen you write this before. Most do operate in the black. Do you seriously think they would continue operating if that was not the case?

As I said the vast majority of three stars are lucrative businesses. I am unsure if there is anyone except for Le Louis XV and one or two of the hotel restos in Paris that operate in the red. LXV is financed by SBM and it is a different story.

When my glass is full, I empty it; when it is empty, I fill it.

Gastroville - the blog

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I do not know why you assume that all top restaurants operate in the red. It is just not the case. Check out for yourself on Societe.com. The financial figures for Lucas Carton are here. As you can see it has been quite profitable the last four years or so. Many of the three star restaurants are literally gold mines. Michel Bras, l'Arpege, l'Ambroisie to mention a few are exceptionally profitable businesses.

I do not know why you assume that I make this assumption. Most do not operate deeply in the black. A few three stars are goldmines, most are not, many operate in the red.

A three star that goes more casual "brasserie de luxe" has a high likelyhood of turning into a cash cow.

I have seen you write this before. Most do operate in the black. Do you seriously think they would continue operating if that was not the case?

As I said the vast majority of three stars are lucrative businesses. I am unsure if there is anyone except for Le Louis XV and one or two of the hotel restos in Paris that operate in the red. LXV is financed by SBM and it is a different story.

My statements regarding this have been backed up by others in the industry as well.

There really is no need to argue about it here. If you have seen me write this before, maybe you missed the part about my saying that top tier places taking longer to start operating in the black.

Furthermore my initial point in this thread is that the place would run deeply in the black after the change.

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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I do not know why you assume that all top restaurants operate in the red. It is just not the case. Check out for yourself on Societe.com. The financial figures for Lucas Carton are here. As you can see it has been quite profitable the last four years or so. Many of the three star restaurants are literally gold mines. Michel Bras, l'Arpege, l'Ambroisie to mention a few are exceptionally profitable businesses.

I do not know why you assume that I make this assumption. Most do not operate deeply in the black. A few three stars are goldmines, most are not, many operate in the red.

A three star that goes more casual "brasserie de luxe" has a high likelyhood of turning into a cash cow.

I have seen you write this before. Most do operate in the black. Do you seriously think they would continue operating if that was not the case?

As I said the vast majority of three stars are lucrative businesses. I am unsure if there is anyone except for Le Louis XV and one or two of the hotel restos in Paris that operate in the red. LXV is financed by SBM and it is a different story.

My statements regarding this have been backed up by others in the industry as well.

There really is no need to argue about it here. If you have seen me write this before, maybe you missed the part about my saying that top tier places taking longer to start operating in the black.

Furthermore my initial point in this thread is that the place would run deeply in the black after the change.

No I have read you writning that they are in the red, which is not the case. In fact a lot of people keep saying that there are sinking fortunes of the French haute cuisine and well it does not seem to be the case.

Maybe this theory is backed up by mouning chefs. But it is not backed up by the cold facts of the figures that these restaurants reports to the authorities. Please use real fact instead of rumours. Check out for yourself on the link I gave you.

If Lucas Carton will be more profitable after the change is a question only future will have an answer to. Maybe, maybe not. I am however sure that there is no bistro in France on the surface of l'Ambrosie with the same sales and net profit.

When my glass is full, I empty it; when it is empty, I fill it.

Gastroville - the blog

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It seems to me that you are oversimplifying some things I've said. Taking them out of context and applying them here.

I see no reason to further discussion here. I've already explained my statement here.

Start another thread on the matter. I ask that you don't use some random quote or any quotes from previous threads to start it. I've seen that done before and it always seemed like trolling or whatever that sort of thing is called. Of course you are free to do as you wish.

We are off topic.

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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...and here's the report in the Guardian.

Michelin is also accused of encouraging what Le Figaro's restaurant critic, François Simon, calls a "nervous" cuisine, "oppressed, destined solely for other chefs and for the guide inspectors, over-technical, unnecessarily showy: demonstration cooking."

Under pressure from the guides, many critics argue, haute cuisine is now a world removed from the law laid down by Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, the 18th-century writer, who in his Meditations on Taste defined a top gastronomic experience as "good food cooked simply and eaten in surroundings in which everyone can feel at home".

Edited by John Whiting (log)

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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François Simon reports in the Figaro this morning that, next Tuesday, Alain Senderens gives up the three-star rating he's had for the past 28 years in the Michelin Red Guide. He'll be turning the Lucas Carton into a "brasserie de luxe".

What did Philippe Gaertner of Aux Armes de France in Ammerschwirh start and what will Michelin's response be? As I noted in the "Digest" March 21st, he gave up his stars and Jean-Luc Naret essentially said "we giveth and only we can take away."

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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The issue about profitability of the restaurant is relevant, since apparently it was behind M. Senderens's decision to change. I think we have a case of conflicting data here, and it may be tough to resolve.

On the one hand, the Figaro article that kicked off this thread noted that

La décision d'Alain Senderens rappelle que la haute gastronomie est devenue un sport éreintant, rarement rentable (elle le devient avec les contrats passés à l'extérieur et la démultiplication de l'image).

That is, in loose translation,

Alain Senderens's decision is a reminder that running haute cuisine restaurants has become an exhausting sport, one that is rarely profitable -- though it can become so if the chef does deals outside the restaurant and exploits its brand.

The journalist here supports the conventional wisdom cited by chef Zadi: these top-end restaurants don't make large profits. When we interviewed Ferran Adria in London, he insisted (as he has in other interviews) that El Bulli just broke even; he needed his other, more profitable ventures in order to keep the restaurant operating.

On the other, the Societe.com data that Mikael quoted does suggest that Lucas-Carton has been profitable, and there would be no reason to overstate the profitability of the business -- in fact, quite the opposite, in order to reduce taxes. Nonetheless the "EBE" figure (close, though not exactly the same as, EBITDA, earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) isn't enormous given the roughly 5m Euro revenues of the business, and we don't know whether M. Senderens or other family members invlolved have been paid a salary or are living off the cash flow of the business. Hence it's not clear that the restaurant is "a goldmine".

The Guardian report cited by John Whiting contains M. Senderens's insistance that Lucas Carton remains profitable. It also notes that the loss of a star would, according to Paris conventional wisdom, cost the restaurant 25% in turnover. A rough calculation of fixed costs suggests that such a drop would push the restaurant into the red, by roughly the same magnitude that it now makes a profit. So unless the owner can be sure that the star is "sticky", there could be real economic pressure in operating at this level.

Jonathan Day

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

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It’s interesting how the good Spanish and Italian (and Swiss) chefs just bop along doing what they want to do, or have to do, without anyone getting all hot and breathy. If a chef in those countries gets a star or loses a star, relatively few followers of the food scene really care. Of course gastronomic heritage and history play a more profound role in France, but it’s more because of the Guide Michelin and all the restaurants they have bestowed three stars on that distort and create undue and unwarranted stress on the cooking/restaurant profession. My guess is that you get rid of the Michelin stars and no one will get panic-stricken when a celebrated chef decides to change the kind of restaurant he has. I’m starting anyway to believe that almost no one knows who is really good and what is really great. The press and other forms of the printed word distort the state of gastronomy while debasing the ability of people to think for themselves. This situation with Senderens is just another chink in the armor of haute gastronomie or temples of haute gastronomie. It’s all part of an inexorable march at the mid-to- high end towards what I call “cuisine de demi-pension” or the way we eat at a wedding or a bar mitzvah. Take a seat and eat what they bring you, which is the same as what everyone else in the place is eating. So it doesn’t really matter in the long run that Senderens is “giving back his Michelin stars’, which he isn’t doing anyway. He’s changing his restaurant from a temple of haute gastronomie to a minion of haute gastronomie, where a group of guys can stand around and mourn its death.

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It’s interesting how the good Spanish and Italian (and Swiss) chefs just bop along doing what they want to do, or have to do, without anyone getting all hot and breathy.

I’m starting anyway to believe that almost no one knows who is really good and what is really great.

Very nicely put Robert. I hope I'm not pouring gasoline on the fire or goring too many oxes when I second your opinion about the paucity of informed folk in France (and maybe in the US too). My professional colleagues in France turn to me for advice about eating (otherwise they go back to restos they frequented in university); the Parisian food critics I've met and read seem committed to simply interesting the average person in something other than chain restaurants; and so many of my American friends on vacation seem proud to have planned their trips around Michelin macaroons. In New York, if the NYT favorably reviews a place, forget reserving for months; here, after a rave review in say Figaroscope I can see no difference in the customer numbers.

Finally, given your binational knowledge and experience, do you share my sense that Italian places feel less pressure than French ones to keep moving forward and are more committed, in the best of senses, to maintaining their tradition and focus?

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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John, there's a category of traveling gastronomes I call "Michelin star f---ers", who spend all their gastronomic time, energy and money going to France to eat in the two and three star restaurants. (They also are very interested in Spain.) However, they skip Italy altogether even though there are several places (Le Calendre, Combal, Joia, Cracko-Peck,etc.) that would fill the bill for their quest of "the latest and the greatest". But the essence of dining in Italy at the restaurants that have the qualities you refer to above are those that have proven themselves over generations and respect the traditions while often having a refreshing degree of sober modernism or interpretation. I think this is mainly due to the role of the family (often entire families) and the handing down of restaurants from generation to generation. Now this happens in France at the higher-end, but not to the extent that it does in Italy: Most notably Trloisgros, Michel Bras, Haeberlin, Georges Blanc, Lorain (Cote st. Jacques) and others. But as we are discussing, who will take over Lucas-Carton, Eugenie-les-Bains, Arpege, L'Ambroisie? Maybe there are some sons in these places I'm not aware of. But already Girardet, Robuchon (the three-star one), Peyrot, Barrier, and so many others are gone. Then you get the situation of Chapel whose son is working without the benefit of his father and has no interest in perpetuating his cuisine.

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