Haute la 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.
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 celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, is extremely fond of parachuting; he has done more than 1,000 solo jumps.