Haute cuisine végétale with grand cru vegetables, fruits and herbs by Alain Passard
Chief reason to visit: Arpège earned three Michelin stars in 1996 and has maintained all three ever since. Chef-owner Alain Passard still cooks at his restaurant almost every day and, despite his success, has not been tempted to open an offshoot.
About the chef: Passard purchased the restaurant L’Archestrate from his mentor, Alain Senderens, in 1986 and renamed it Arpège, a nod to his deep love for music. Over the years, his restaurant has groomed a cadre of prolific French chefs including Pascal Barbot, David Toutain and Bertrand Grébaut. In 2016, Passard won The Diners Club Lifetime Achievement Award at The World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Fresh approach: In 2001, Passard removed red meat from his menu; the following year, he bought a plot of biodynamic farm in Sarthe and since then has acquired two more plots in Eure and Manche. Produce from one of Passard’s three gardens is delivered to Arpège on a daily basis, arriving just in time for lunch service. These vegetables are famously known to “never see the inside of a refrigerator”.
Signature dish: While his veg-centric courses are transcendental, Passard’s most well-known dishes also include “hot-cold egg” of warm poached yolk with sherry vinegar-infused whipped cream, chives and Canadian maple syrup.
Bonus point: Chef Passard, whose restaurant celebrated its 30th anniversary last year, is extremely fond of parachuting; he has done more than 1,000 solo jumps.