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Les Crayeres, 2005-, the Didier Elena era


PaulaJK
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For several years prior to Gerard Boyer's retirment,

Thierry Voisin essentially ran this kitchen. I thought

he was a fabulous talent & manager. As was generally

expected, he succeeded Boyer at the helm.

Now I read that Didier Elena is the "new chef".

Does anyone have any information re: this? I

am aware that Michelin reduced Les Crayeres

by 1 *, but that is almost de rigeur after a

change at the halm [although rather silly here,

since Boyer was no longer at the helm, except

in name.]

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I'm so sad to learn of this.

Perhaps bookings were down due to the euro. Also,

I always wondered why they didn't do a PR campaign

to introduce Thierry Voisin. Do you know where he

has gone? Yes, he had his soul there.

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Didier Elena is indeed the new chef at Les Crayeres, according to Relais & Chateaux. But I'm not sure why anybody considers that to be anything but good news. Didier Elena took Alain Ducasse's New York outpost, launched under the most unfavorable media and public opinion conditions of any restaurant I can remember, and against all odds fought his way to a New York Times four-star rating. Very few chefs have the dedication, no less the skill, to force the issue so emphatically. Les Crayeres should be in very good hands with Didier Elena.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Didier Elena is indeed the new chef at Les Crayeres, according to Relais & Chateaux. But I'm not sure why anybody considers that to be anything but good news.  . . .

That Thierry Voisin is not there is the bad news for some who knew what he could do and who loved his food. As for the rating, it's not abnormal for Michelin to demote a restaurant when the chef retires even if his number two man takes over and generally before they even get to judge whether or not he's doing as well as his predecessor. Fans of Thierry Voisin should see it as anything but good news that he's not had the chance to prove himself.

Voisin not only worked at Les Crayeres for a decade and a half, but he was the chef for half that period even before Boyer retired from the restaurant, yet the restaurant has suffered a loss of a star and apparently a downturn in business only after Boyer retired officially. My suggestion is that the Boyer name brought fickle gourmands looking for the famous chef, not the restaurant's food. I'd love to hear from reliable sources if the quality of the meal decreased or if Michelin merely gave it a perfunctory demotion as is it's usual practice. (Usual, but not compulsory. Loiseau kept it's third star after the chef committed suicide. One wonders if Michelin was moved by the memory of a chef whose fear was to lose a star.)

It's always good news when a talented chefs comes to command a restaurant kitchen, but that's always tainted when he replaces another talented chef and it should not be unexpected to see the old chef's fans register their disappointment

Here's a post from a year and a half ago.

We stayed and ate there last Saturday (October 18th), both lunch and dinner, even knowing Boyer was not there.  Thiery did a wonderful job, we had our all time favorite lunch: Salad Meurice for the appetizer, which is haricot vertes, foie gras, lobster, artichokes and truffes tossed with a light vinagrette and then for our main course the whole truffe en croute with sauce perigourd, champagne throughout, and what is better?  It was my husband's birthday and our favorite romantic place to stay.  So far I would say they are doing really well and this is about our 8th time there.  Thiery made a point of meeting us after dinner, which we really enjoyed.  We wish them well and will return, definitely.

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'd love to hear from reliable sources if the quality of the meal decreased or if Michelin merely gave it a perfunctory demotion as is it's usual practice.

There are many who believed that Crayeres had not deserved 3 stars for a number of years. I would describe this as a deferred demotion, waiting for Boyer's retirement, rather than a perfunctory one.

Edited by marcus (log)
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I haven't been since maybe 1999, but the meal I had there was a three-star experience in every way. While the food lacked the overt creativity of some of the other three-stars, it was the height of contemporary French culinary luxuriousness and perfectionism. I've often thought of the parallels between Les Crayeres and Ducasse's operations, where the interest is in the details, so I'm not surprised that a Ducasse chef is now at the helm -- the approaches dovetail very nicely.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I'd love to hear from reliable sources if the quality of the meal decreased or if Michelin merely gave it a perfunctory demotion as is it's usual practice.

There are many who believed that Crayeres had not deserved 3 stars for a number of years. I would describe this as a deferred demotion, waiting for Boyer's retirement, rather than a perfunctory one.

Thanks, I've not been to les Crayeres, but I've been touched by some of the comments others have made about the restaurant and about Thierry Voisin. While I've expressed the feeling that some gastrotourists stay away after a change in the kitchens in an often unfair, but predictable manner, I'm not unaware that many people build up a subjective love for a restaurant that allows them to overlook faults in the food and service. Even as I pass on comments or report on what I've heard, I take them with a grain of salt.

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 haven't been since maybe 1999, but the meal I had there was a three-star experience in every way. While the food lacked the overt creativity of some of the other three-stars, it was the height of contemporary French culinary luxuriousness and perfectionism. I've often thought of the parallels between Les Crayeres and Ducasse's operations, where the interest is in the details, so I'm not surprised that a Ducasse chef is now at the helm -- the approaches dovetail very nicely.

Since we're into nostalgia here, I too have not been to Les Crayeres in a while, but after what was in the 1980's - a three-star meal, we retired to what cannot but always be a three-star room and waking up the next morning gazing down that expanse of lawn to Reims was something I'll never forget (and Colette reminds me of missing frequently).

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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we retired to what cannot but always be a three-star room and waking up the next morning gazing down that expanse of lawn to Reims was something I'll never forget (and Colette reminds me of missing frequently).

Just a few years ago, one of the major travel magazines rated it the best hotel in the world.

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We stayed there as well, and it was truly amazing. They treated us like royalty even though (perhaps especially because) we were poor kids pulling up in a decaying subcompact diesel Lancia rental. They arranged for a VIP tour of Pommery and everything. I want to go back and see what Didier does with the place.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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  • 2 months later...

Hard for me to say, having only eaten there once under Tierry, who basically continued Boyer's efforts (after he worked for him so long, what else could he do?) and once under Didier. Elena worked for Ducasse in New York, I've not eaten there.

Here's a photo of an ADNY menu under Elena: menu

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  • 2 weeks later...

So much for ingratiating himself with the fashionistas...

Quote Elena:

Elena claims his cooking is "simple," at least compared to the molecular gastronomy full of nitrogen-generated emulsions of someone like Spanish chef Ferran Adrian.

"I wouldn't even know how to do it," he said. "Cooking should remain a simple act."

July 2005

© AFP

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  • 4 weeks later...

BBDan

We have been thinking about returning to France...and possibly Les Crayeres

but are ambivalent. I pulled up their web site and saw Elena's

menu. It seems v. limited and indeed, sounds "simple" in contrast

to the former offerings. Have you seen it?

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For the record - we ate there under Thierry Voisin in the fall of 2004. It was our first meal there. The meal was outstanding - and I thought it was deserving of the full three stars. We chatted with Thierry Voisin who was so friendly. It was a great experience - one of the best dining experiences I've had. I am so sorry to hear about this change. Uncalled for!

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  • 1 month later...
Now I read that Didier Elena is the "new chef".

Does anyone have any information re: this?

Today's Le Point's Gilles Pudlowski has a very nice review/bio/tribute of/to Elena at Les Crayeres that certainly reads like he performs very well outside the Ducasse-empire and as Louisa states, serves food much like that of his "milk brother," Jean-François Piège at the Crillon.

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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  • 1 month later...

Yesterday's Les Echos has an article by Jean-Louis Galesne on several restaurants in Reims (it being champagne season and all) that included: Les Crayères, L'Assiette Champenoise, Le Foch, Le Petit Comptoir + Le Boulingrin. After a slight slap on the wrist (eg Elena confused Reims with NY at the start), he has very nice things to say about his food - using terms like brilliant and inspired. But he does say folks differ on their view of him, in part because he comes from Monaco not Reims.

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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Is not coming from Reims a disadvantage?

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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