Over time Paris has grown to be one of my favorite cities. I love everything about it; the culture, the architecture, the nightlife, but most of all, the food! I can't help going back for more. However the challenge that comes with frequenting a city over and over is finding new adventures to explore and keep it interesting.
Well on my last trip I was browsing the net for good eats and suddenly found myself on the EatWith website... This is a great site that connects you with local Chefs in different cities who invite you to purchase a private dining experience in their homes. I saw an event hosted by Master Chef winner Jean-Yves who does an amazing French/Asian gastronomic fusion and my mind was instantly made up. I knew I was in for an awesome foodie adventure!
I arrived at the disclosed location promptly at 8pm with an empty stomach and a world of excitement. My first impression of Jean-Yves was a very friendly and welcoming one. (Though I can't imagine anything less from someone that runs this kind of experience) Feeling very much at ease, I entered his home and formally met him and his Sous Chef David, who was also a stand up guy.
I was escorted into the dining room where I met the only other guest at the time, Ben from the U.K. We jumped into conversation like we were old buddies and swapped stories of food and travel as we waited for the rest of the guests to arrive. Shortly after that a local Parisian and his father, another lone traveler from Amsterdam and a fun couple from Chicago joined the table. It was a great group of well-travelled foodies and I knew right away this was going to be an epic night.
The dinner started with a brief introduction from our host, accompanied by a glass of delicious champagne garnished with fresh cranberries. He gave us a little background on his career and hosting style, and told us what to expect from the night. With this we were ready to start our meal!
The first course out was the Madame Butterfly Rolls. A lemongrass grilled chicken wrapped in rice paper and garnished with cucumber, mint and a delicious sweet and spicy sauce. As it came out, Jean-Yves took the time to explain what it was and how to eat it. The roll was first, then the cucumber and mint together to cleanse your palate, followed by a lettuce boat of delicious sauce for an extra kick of flavor. We were off to a great start.
The next course out was the Imperial Ravioles, served with prawns and mushrooms in a sabayon sauce. Again, Jean-Yves broke down the dish by teaching us the difference between ravioli and ravioles. Then he explained the sauce ingredients and told us the history behind the French flower garnish. Another great dish and I could tell by the progression in flavor that he would be taking our palates on a very welcomed roller coaster ride.
The next and main course was one of my favorites! A duck breast Rossini grilled with foie gras, a sweet potato mousseline cream and zucchini cake with a fresh seasoned yellow pepper garnish. He topped it all off with a homemade crunchy cheese cracker and mmm mmm mmm! Not sure how many times I can tap the "like" button on this one, but let's just say my thumbs would go numb! The flavor was impeccable, the duck was cooked perfectly and the crunch of the cracker helped to balance all the textures in the dish. It was simply amazing and my favorite of the night.
That was until dessert was served. I don't have the biggest sweet tooth these days but I can always appreciate a great dessert. Especially when you're in Paris, eating with a renowned chef who specializes in gourmet macaroons. Umm, need I say more? The softest most delicious raspberry and passion fruit macaroon with a melon ganache, cornflake gold dusted chocolate ball and lychee pearl. Like, what?! I literally had to stop myself from licking the plate. Well-done sir... Well done.
Just to recap: The food was divine, we had wine pairings with each course and Jean-Yves was very cool with me invading his kitchen for behind the scenes photos. Now I've been lucky enough to have some amazing food experiences in Paris and around the world, and I'm no stranger to good food; but this was that and so much more. It was a curated night of memorable experiences. As good as the food was, what I loved even more was sharing a table with a group of traveling foodies and chefs that spoke my language. Swapping stories and sharing laughs made it feel a lot like family, and to me food and family go hand in hand. I highly recommend exploring this and other experiences that EatWith has to offer. It won't be my last, that's for sure!