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The French connection: Le Bistro de Luxe and Terroirs d'Avenir

The French connection: Bistrot de Luxe and Terroirs d'Avenir

Tom Shingler Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Tom Shingler travels to Paris with Tom Duffill, head chef of the Galvin brother's Bistrot de Luxe, to meet artisan French produce supplier Terroirs d'Avenir.

Tom Shingler is the features editor at Great British Chefs.

French food has always been associated with the very best in the world. While it might not enjoy the same monopoly over fine dining as it used to (we’re now inundated with the finest examples of food from all four corners of the globe), it’s still seen as the birthplace of gastronomy. These days, we know that the producers are as much to thanks as the chefs themselves, as they’re the ones rearing, growing or creating fantastic ingredients for restaurant kitchens. In Paris, there’s one company bringing together the very best artisans in France, so the city’s chefs can find them all in one place. In the past few years, they’ve been supplying a few select London restaurants too.

Since 2008, Terroirs d’Avenir has been scouring every region in France (and recently moved into Spain, Italy and Greece) in search of the very best meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, cheeses and dry goods in the world. While their operation is based in Paris, Cyrille Cheminal has been tasked with expanding into London’s restaurant scene, offering ingredients never before available to its chefs. I tagged along with Tom Duffill – the head chef at the Galvin brothers’ celebrated Bistrot de Luxe – to visit Cyrille in Paris and take a look at the produce for myself.

The reason for the trip was to showcase the ingredients Terroir d’Avenir offers as a one-night-only menu cooked by Tom and Vincent Marangone, the head chef of Chameleon Restaurant in Paris. Once we arrived in the city, we went straight to the company’s HQ to see what was being sorted, bagged and packed for the evening’s cooking.

Everything from the rarest farmhouse cheeses to varieties of vegetables I’d never even heard of were on offer. There were Rose Chestnut Paris mushrooms – a variety with a pink tinge sourced from the only grower still operating within the city limits today. The Coucou de Rennes chickens were from a self-sustainable farmer who grew his own organic feed, and whole lamb was available for restaurants that prefer to do their butchery in-house.

 
 

After taking a look at the produce, we visited Chameleon Restaurant to meet Vincent. The relaxed brasserie was quintessentially Parisian, and the dishes offered our first taste of the ingredients Terroirs d’Avenir is able to supply.

The standout dish was one of swordfish belly, lightly seared like tuna to ensure the centre stays raw and fresh. The texture was incredible, and the fattiness of the fish meant it tasted more like pork belly than the standard fillet.

 
 

After lunch, we went to see Terroirs d’Avenir’s retail operation in action. Down the side street Rue de Nil – home to Paris’ famous Frenchie Restaurant – the business has several shops, offering fresh fish, meat, vegetables and bread to the public. It was a real foodie paradise with incredible produce everywhere we looked, putting places like Borough Market to shame.

 
 

After saying goodbye to Cyrille, we travelled back to London with Vincent in anticipation for the next evening’s dinner. Seven courses making the most of French produce on Bastille Day in one of London’s most famous French restaurants meant the pressure was on for the two chefs, but the evening was a resounding success.

From the beetroot macarons and rabbit terrine to start right through to the dessert of rum baba (with a seriously generous helping of vintage rum), the whole menu really proved why France is still king when it comes to fine food. The standout dish was Tom’s chicken pithivier, simply served with a rich jus and plenty of grated black truffle, but each one left a lasting impression. The wines were also expertly matched, with Pouilly Fume, Chablis, Chateauneuf du Pape and Morgon showcasing the best of French vineyards.

 
 

To find out more about Terroirs d'Avenir, visit their website, and read all about Bistrot de Luxe on Great British Chefs.

 
 

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The French connection: Bistrot de Luxe and Terroirs d'Avenir

 
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