Le Fooding: The Brooklyn Version

The famous French eating festival has finally arrived in Brooklyn, which, some might say, has the most European restaurant scene in New York. Created by Alexandre Cammas in Paris, Le Fooding has spread a concept of modern, edgier, and culture-focused eating in France, New York, and Milano for the last twelve yeras. Now, after three turns in NYC, Le Fooding has concentrated its efforts in Brooklyn.

And you, dear readers, can buy tickets for the event early by clicking this link.

This year they have four main events: Le Clicquot Brooklyn tour, cinematic brunches, Le Fooding lunches at the flea markets, and the Le Fooding Campfire Session. For the Clicquot Brooklyn Tour, they will feature four $75 dinners, complete with a half bottle of Veuve Clicquot, that pair Brooklyn chefs with their foreign “twins.” Meaning at the September 19 dinner, Brian Leth, the Vinegar Hill House chef, will cook with Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook, the guys from the popular Los Angeles restaurant Animal. On the 20th, you get a lovely pairing of Frankies 457 Spuntino’s owners Frank Castronovo and Frank Falcinelli with southern darling Sean Brock, who runs the farm-to-table joint Husk in Charleston, North Carolina. For the third dinner, they have Neal Harden and Alain Senderens preparing a vegan meal with the Paris-based chef Daniel Rose. Finally, the last meal of the series features a nomadic feast where Le Fooding organizers have opened up a kitchen in Dustin Yellin’s new building, The Intercourse, to host great chefs who currently don’t have their own restaurant. This means you can sample fare by British chaps Isaac McHale and James Lowe of the Young Turks, Ignacio Mattos, formally of Isa, and Hugue Dufour, formally of M. Wells.

The cinematic brunches will be held September 22 and 23 at Nitehawk Cinema in Williamsburg, and they plan on screening Brooklyn classics like Saturday Night Fever and The Warriors to pair with dishes that represent the borough. Also on the 22nd and 23rd, the Fort Greene and Williamsburg flea markets will open up a food stand featuring vintage eats by various Le Fooding chefs. Finally, for the last night, they will have the Campfire Session, an energetic event at the Brooklyn Waterfront with live music and, of course, more food. 

This event will sell out, so get your tickets early!

Mystery Chef Revealed: Exquisite Corpse at Le Grand Fooding NYC 2011

You know that mystery chef we mentioned — the blind recluse opening a 52-hour popup restaurant in Chelsea next month? Well, he doesn’t exist. Or rather, he does exist, and his name is legion. That’s because he’s a culinary amalgam of 13 for-real superchefs, all contributing their talents and grub to 13 individual seatings for Le Grand Fooding NYC 2011. You would be well advised to buy from our special allotment presale tickets, available as of right now. But who exactly makes up the exquisite corpse of the mythical Nikoalan Nselurfueymardcora?

That would be Andrew Carmellini (Locanda Verde and The Dutch in New York City); Hugue Dufour (M. Wells in New York City); Kobe Desramaults (In de Wulf, of Dranouter, Belgium); Armand Arnal (La Chassagnette of Arles, France); Ana Ros (HiSa Franko of Kobarid, Slovenia); Sat Bains (Restaurant Sat Bains, Nottingham, UK); Blaine Wetzel (Willows Inn on Lummi Island, Washington State); Fulvio Pierangelini (Hotel de Russie, Rome); Brooks Headley (Del Posto in New York City); Mauro Colagreco (Le Mirazur of Menton, France); Adeline Grattard (Yam’tcha in Paris); Corey Lee (Benu in San Francisco); and Massimo Bottura (Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy).

Quite a lineup, brought to you by sponsor dollars from the lines of Veuve Clicquot, Mastercard, and San Pellegrino. Now you can only buy tickets for the 9/24 and 9/25 seatings via our link, but you only miss out on Carmellini; everyone else is working round the clock on the other days. There’s only a handful of tickets available for each one, so act fast.

Le Grand Fooding 2010: Reserve Tickets Now!

If the only thing you remember from Adam Gopnik’s five-years-too-late New Yorker piece on French food collective Le Fooding is that the father of two has a thing for nubile Parisians, you’re not alone. For this, you can’t entirely blame him: it’s with a modicum of disappointment that I report no sacred cows will be slaughtered, as at least one female representative of Le Fooding, Constance Jouven, is indeed beguiling. We met last week for a glass of wine at Epistrophy—heavy on the accents, a whiff of Gallic disregard for service—to discuss Le Fooding’s next event, Le Grand Fooding 2010, New York vs. San Francisco.

Like last year, the two day fete d’food will take place at MoMA PS1 on September 24th and 25th. When not reenacting a gastro version of May 1968 and forswearing the conservative, Michelin-dominated status quo of the French culinary establishment, Le Fooding is pitting the very best New York chefs against the West Coast’s avant garde: see David Chang throw down against Daniel Paterson, James Barber come to foodie fisticuffs with James Syhabout. Hear Brooklyn’s Grizzly Bear DJ! Have an opinion about water! (E.g., Pellegrino vs Acqua Panna; Bloomberg’s finest is the uncontested H20 heavyweight if you ask me.) For an actually pretty reasonable $50, you can attend the cloyingly-called Le Grand Yummy and receive a flute of Veuve Clicquot, a glass of Rhone wine, a “Belvedere experience,” and a whole lot of delicious food, like “Beef cooked in beef fat, anchovy crostone, parsley and fried garlic” prepared by Pulino’s Nate Appleman. Tickets don’t officially go on sale till next month, but BlackBook readers can reserve here right now.

Industry Insiders: Daniel Boulud, French Ace

Daniel Boulud is one of a handful of people who can claim ownership of four stars from the New York Times’ restaurant critic. His modest roots in Lyon, France, instilled his understanding for local produce, and anyone who has visited one of his restaurants (Daniel, Bar Boulud, DB Bistro Moderne, DBGB) understands his love for a decadent burger. The New York-based chef will also be sharing his culinary mastery with supporters of the Le Fooding d’Amour event on September 26-27.

How’d you get involved with Le Fooding? I knew of it in France, through the media. I found out about it coming to New York through my friend, Yves Camdeborde, the chef of Le Comptoir, and my nephew Jean Luc Martin, who is a maitre d’ there. We’re always in contact, and Yves told me that Alexandre Cammas would be coming to New York and it would be great for me to meet with him and see if we could participate in the event.

What did you particularly like about the organization? In America, we definitely have many of those events. This is not a novelty to have chefs by stations and to have bartenders doing special cocktails. The food and wine festivals are all over the country, with charity dinners and all that. What’s interesting here is that it’s done in a very young and casual way. They approach music, art, food, and mixology together. I also like the fact that the French chefs are coming to New York to do the party. I think that’s interesting, because it’s good to have some fresh ideas coming into New York. It’s going to be very successful.

What will you be preparing for the event? For the event, with Cafe Boulud, we’re preparing a couscous. It’s traditional flavor and a contemporary approach to a couscous. We are making hamburgers, with different part of the braised lamb and a very good broth with it. It’s spicy and sweet.

Are there any organizations in the U.S that you would compare to Le Fooding? I will compare Le Fooding with when Danny Meyer does his barbecue block party, where thousands of people come, and there are all the different barbecue makers and beers.

Alex Cammas started Le Fooding because he said that he was tired of the “regulated, very serious nature of gastronomy in France.” How does French dining differ from American dining now? This is like if a punk or a rock artist was saying that classical music is just boring, and “let’s live the rock ‘n’ roll‎.” That punk had to learn classical music in order to become a good punk musician. So, I think it’s the cycle of generations. There’s certainly a young generation of chefs in France who want to detach themselves from old gastronomy. Luckily, they’re very talented and very creative chefs, and that gives them a platform and a window to do that. With Le Fooding the idea is to bring the great young chefs — not always the chef who has a three-star rating, but the one who has the best bistro in town — and the most creative of the new generation. In America, we add many opportunities to present our young chef into old food and wine festivals, which is something that would not exist in France.

Where are some of your favorite markets? In New York, Union Square is my favorite, but it’s also one of the largest. I like to go to the fish market in the Bronx. I love going down the aisle of those huge fish markets. In Europe, my favorite markets are in San Sebastian, Nice, and Paris. Rungis Market in Paris is amazing. It’s a big market for professionals; maybe the best in the world. In every city I visit, I always ask the concierge to direct me to the best market. It gives me a sense of what people are eating locally, because the only people you have in the market are locals. I was born and raised on a farm, so every Saturday from the age of eight — when I was old enough to go with my father to the market — until the age of sixteen, I was with my father selling our vegetables. Today, every chef dreams to be a farmer, and for me I was a farmer and I dreamed to be a chef.

One piece of advice you could give about making selections at the market? When you go to the market, you use your eyes to spot the good things; you use your brain to look a the price and compare; then you use your nose. Sometimes you can use your hands, but often farmers don’t like when you touch things. When you go to the market, you get involved with what you want to buy. You have a relationship talking about the product with someone who has grown it and nurtured it. It’s a whole different thing from grabbing something off the shelf and putting it into a cart.

Industry Insiders: Julie Farias, the General’s Butcher

As one of the many talented cuisiniers participating in Le Fooding D’Amour (September 25-26 at at New York’s P.S.1), Julie Farias knows a thing or two about a good cut of meat. The Texas-born chef—who recently moved from Brooklyn’s Beer Table to The General Greene—worked for Daniel Boulud for five years (at Café Boulud, db Bistro Moderne, and Daniel), but attributes much of her culinary know-how to her southern upbringing and family influence (her clan owns a tortilla factory inside a San Antonio meat market). Farias tells us about working in kitchens on both coasts and how Le Fooding is going to taste for New Yorkers. In her case, it’s going to taste like tacos made from 40 cow heads.

What influenced your move from Beer Table to The General Greene? Nicholas Morgenstern, the owner of The General Greene, and I met at Daniel when he was the pastry sous-chef there and I was working the soup station. We worked together at 5Ninth. There, I was the opening sous and he was the pastry chef, and then we also worked together at Resto. I’ve known him for a really long time, and before last year, I was living and working in Los Angeles and Las Vegas on a project for the Palazzo. Nick came out to see me and asked me to come to his new restaurant, The General Greene, and I didn’t think anything of it. I said that I wasn’t in the position to leave. When I came back from Vegas, I moved to Beer Table. Owners Justin and Tricia Philips were friends of mine, and they needed a little help setting up the menu. They said, “We have this place, and there’s no kitchen, but we love your food and we think that this would work out.” And I loved the idea of it more than anything. Especially the spatial challenge. We had no kitchen at Beer Table. There was a convection oven, no dishwasher, no prep, no kitchen. When you take things away and you have bare essentials, it made me think about food in a different way. I always thought that fire was a bare essential but I realized that electricity is. I’m not as much of a Neanderthal as I thought I was. The timing was eventually right when Nicholas asked me again, and it just had to happen. He’s a fantastic partner.

What were you doing in Las Vegas? I was working for a gentleman named Jonathan Morr. He owns Republic and Bond St. We opened an Asian noodle restaurant called Mainland at the Palazzo Hotel and Casino. I created the menu, and I was also Jonathan’s consulting chef. I traveled from New York to Miami to Los Angeles to Vegas. I did consulting work for Thompson Hotels out there, creating their room service menu. I also lived and worked at Hotel Oceana in Santa Monica. I had no home for a year.

What was it like building the menu at The General Greene? I’m going to give a metaphor: me being here right now is, in some ways, like cutting in on a dancer. I’m about to dance with the pretty girl, so I’m cutting in and I have to keep up the pace for whatever waltz or jitterbug or lindy-hop they’re doing. There’s already a rhythm here; it’s a successful restaurant. Nick has asked me to work on organization, on execution, kitchen techniques, things like that, and keep up on the quality of products. It was a very big change to go from one burner to a stove and a downstairs and four to five cooks and a dishwasher.

What should we order on our first visit? We have bar snacks, and my favorite one right now is the bacon dates—dates wrapped in bacon and cooked in maple syrup. After that, you’d have to try the butter lettuce with a lemon vinaigrette, curried almonds and ruby-red grapefruit. I’m a big fan of ruby-red grapefruit. For me, they are a little sweeter, a better color, and before, we were using regular grapefruit on this dish. I also put collared greens on the menu, and these you have to try. They’re sautéed with garlic, red pepper chilies, and a squeeze of lemon juice. You have to try the chuck flap steak from Niman Ranch. It’s something known as a bavette, and it’s a tough kind of meat meant to be cooked medium rare. We grill it then slice it thin, and we serve it with a roasted garlic sauce with olive oil and Portuguese sea salt. It’s got a really hearty flavor. Then, you have to finish it off with a salty caramel sundae. It’s a hot caramel cake with salted caramel ice cream, whipped cream, caramel sauce, and then crushed, salted mini pretzels on top of it. It’s out of this world. You may have to stop by Nick’s Greene Ice Cream Cart as well.

How did you get involved with Le Fooding? It turns out, [Le Fooding founder] Alexandre Cammas lives in the neighborhood. His wife, Natalie, had actually had dinner at Beer Table, and so there was sort of a little match-making there, and they contacted me and came down to The General Greene.

What will you prepare for the September Le Fooding D’Amour event? I’m doing tête de veau tacos or “veal head.” It’s traditional barbacoa from San Antonio, Texas. I’m doing this classic recipe here, and I think it makes sense with the idea of the picnic setting. I actually smoked one of the cow heads today. They’re kind of scary looking. I’m going to be smoking about 40 of them for the event. They’re really kind of magnificent with the eyes, the skull, and the teeth.

Will New Yorkers embrace the Le Fooding concept? New Yorkers are all about food. I came here from Texas to cook. I returned to New York from Vegas because I felt that there was more of a focus on and interest in food here—from grocery stores to cooking at home. In keeping with this mentality, to me, it just seems like Le Fooding is a very natural thing. People will be attracted to this, and Alex’s interest in graphic design is reflected in the style of the event. Why would New Yorkers not want to come? I think that Alex’s goal is definitely going to be fulfilled.

What are your favorite bars and restaurants? Because I’ve been working at The General Greene so much, I’ve been limiting my going out to Brooklyn. I love Five Leaves and Char No. 4. They do a lot of smoked meat, and I butcher there on Mondays. Defonte’s in Red Hook is a sandwich place, and oh my God, it’s super yummy. I love the Skybox at Daniel. For drinking, I’m kind of a liquor snob … but when I feel like being a bit more on the rowdy side, I go to the Palace Cafe in Greenpoint. Budweiser and Jack & Coke is about as sophisticated of a drink you’ll get there. All of these places are in keeping with the same mood.

Nicholas Morgenstern and Julie Farias photographed by Michael Harlan Turkell.

Get Advance Le Fooding Tickets Here!

You may have heard of Le Fooding, the rad Parisian dining fest coming to New York’s PS1 September 25-26. We’re pleased to offer advance tickets to BlackBook readers that get you special perks. For $60, enjoy early entry to “Le Clicquot d’Amour” (sponsored by the redoubtable Veuve), which lets you nosh on special preparations from the various world-famous chefs in attendance. Plus you can hobnob with the chefs themselves while swilling free champagne. If you prefer to save now and spend later, you can also buy the regular ticket for $30. For more on Le Fooding, click here and here. And if you’re ready to get those tickets, here is where you need to click, mon frere.

Le Fooding Takes Over NYC

The French are better than we simple Americans at many things (staying thin, being fashionable, appearing cultured), but most importantly, the French know their food. Alexandre Cammas took his inherent French penchant for dining to new heights when he founded the gastronomic movement, Le Fooding, in Paris almost a decade ago. On September 25th and 26th, Le Fooding invades New York for their first stateside appearance. Le Fooding d’Amour Paris-New York is centered upon 6 renowned chefs from New York and 6 from Paris cooking for charity (Action Against Hunger) at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center. Tickets are inexpensive, the idea behind the event is monumental and with the talent in the cooking arena — Yves Camdeborde (Le Comptoir de la Relais), Inaki Aizpitarte (Le Chateaubriand), William Ledeuil (Ze Kitchen Galerie), Alberto Herraiz (Fogón), Stephane Jego (L’Ami Jean) and Christophe Pelé (La Bigarrade), plus David Chang (Momofuku), Julie Farias (General Greene), Daniel Boulud with Olivier Muller (db Bistro), Wylie Dufresne (wd-50), Sean Rembold (Marlow & Sons) Riad Nasr (Minetta Tavern) — it’s physically impossible for the food to be anything less than superb. Alex and his event coordinator, Zoé Reyners, give BlackBook a sneak peek.

What is Le Fooding, the movement? Zoé Reyners: It started 9 years ago in Paris while Alex was a food writer. He used the term fooding in an article to rhyme with fueling. It was unintentionally expressing what he felt about gastronomy at the time in France. Back then, it was a very regulated, very serious matter. Alex was fed up with this and wanted to inject some feeling into it. That’s why he ran with fooding. The idea was well-liked by the press and people started talking about that word. With a bunch of his food writer friends — who had the same feelings about food at the time — Alex decided to use this word “fooding” as a banner for what they were thinking. They held the first event with friends. It was a casual thing to do with new chefs, but the media attention surrounding the first event showed that this was something necessary, and something that people agreed with. Events were organized more often. The website was founded, a phone line, and an office were set up. Step by step it became a real company. There is now a team of 50 writers working for the annually distributed Le Fooding guide. The first completely independent issue was put out last year. Before that, it was as a supplement for larger magazines.

When you got started, what was the reaction of your target audience? Alexandre Cammas: The young French people responded very well and quickly to what we were doing, but it was more difficult to get attention from the old-school chefs and old-school food writers because Le Fooding was different and new. We weren’t just food writers … we started to be involved in concrete things. Normally food writers don’t take risks and straight criticize what’s good and not good. For the first time, we took some risks, and we organized events.

How do you decide on restaurants to review for the publication? Alex: The criteria to select a restaurant in our guide, or for our events, is after we have dinner, we ask ourselves if we want to come back to a restaurant. If so, that’s a good restaurant. You can explore this question, not only with three-star Michelin-guide restaurants, but you can ask the same question for pizza parlors, for bistros, for cafés.

Who are the people who explore this question? Alex: Naturally, it’s the people who are curious, who are open-minded to the taste of the time and to tastes of the time. If you’re straight-minded, if you just like one sort of cuisine, Le Fooding doesn’t much care for your type. We make the guides and the website for people who are curious, like we are.

Why did you choose to introduce this concept to New York? Zoé: The question people usually ask us is, “What’s new for New Yorkers because this spirit already exists here?” I think the event is actually very different from the kind of events organized in New York.

Alex: A guide is a guide, but we’re pairing our guide with the charity event. It’s quite different from TimeOut or from BlackBook.

Is advertising in the guide created in-house? Zoé: We don’t create the advertising, but we have graphic designers handling much of the advertising so that it’s not completely different from our illustrations, the text, or the spirit.

Alex: There’s definitely a spirit. The guide is funny, and you can just read it for pleasure. You aren’t supposed to just want to look in it for an address of a restaurant. For the events, it’s the same. We started in Paris with events. Therefore, we decided to come to New York and start with events too.

What do we need to know about the event? Alex: The event we produce in New York City will be very different from the events that you know surrounding food. It’ll be at P.S.1. We usually do our events in art centers. The spirit is linked to the idea that food is not only food. It can be about the atmosphere and the culture that surrounds it. Also, it’s not only star chefs that you have to pay lots to eat their food. We don’t come with the most famous chefs of France, but we come with the ones who are alive in Paris.

Zoé: I think people know them, but they aren’t the mythical chefs. They’re active, innovative, creative chefs.

Tell me about the graphic design aspect. Alex: We’ll create a collector’s menu. Each chef will be represented by one graphic designer. The chefs of Paris will be represented the best graphic designers of Paris; and the New York chefs will be represented by designers from New York. Some of the designers are: Ich & Kar, Change is Good, Gianpaolo Pagni, Helène Builly, Vanessa Verillon, Nicholas Blechman, Tim Tomkinson, Jan Wilker, Paul Sahre, Jeanne Verdoux, Christoph Niemann, Andre and So Me.

Will the chefs contribute any ideas to the design of the menu, or is it completely up to the designer? Zoé: The designers meet the chefs. They’ll taste their food. They try to understand their spirit, their way of being, their humor, and then they are inspired to create a design in which they are completely free to do whatever they want.

When will people start buying tickets? Alex: The other thing that is different is the price. It’s a price accessible for all the people who like food and who like this sort of party spirit, and not necessarily for the people who have a lot of money. They’re $30, alcohol not included.

And once inside? Zoé: Guests have the choice to go to 6 different chefs each night, and taste amazing food. It’s a huge meal for $30 and it’s a distinguished chef’s meal. From 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., the venue will be open only to VIPs on the guest list and for around 200 people that will have $60 VIP tickets, with Veuve Clicquot champagne included. The VIP space will be open from 6 p.m. to 11:30, whereas the rest of the venue will be closed at 10 p.m. Besides approximately 100 tickets each night, all the tickets will be available on the 15th of September on the Le Fooding website. Before that day, some tickets will be available if you have a secret code. Alex: We’ll also have DJ’s spinning in the VIP area and in the general admission area, including Paul Sevigny and Kolkhoze from Le Baron in Paris.

Industry Insiders: Alexandre Cammas, Le Spécialiste

The founder of Le Fooding, the most iconoclastic food movement in France, on air conditioning, dandyism, and his culinary expertise.

How would you describe yourself? You’d be better off asking one of my colleagues. They’d be more objective. To sum it up simply: curious, persistent, mixed, free.

Name three restaurants/bars/clubs you like and why? I love too many to list just three, so I’ll try to choose three who can respond to two criteria: good and cool. To find a mix of these two in France is rare. Le Chateaubriand, a unique restaurant, is sexy, gourmet, alive, déclassé, and they do their own thing. A French cultural exception. Racines is a wine bar and restaurant in an old Parisian covered passage. Sublime products, treated with respect by a patron who has one of the best natural wine lists in Paris. Rose Bakery, a snack place, tea-house, luxury grocery store, full of soul, no décor— except for the food itself, salads full of freshness, cooked on the spot, cake pans overflowing. They have a great clientèle with lots of cinema people, reasonable prices, and the size of the bill is inversely proportional to your soulful experience.

Who do you admire in the hospitality industry? Jean-Louis Costes and Yves Camdeborde, for the same reasons but not at the same level. The first decided to reinvent the French café, the brasserie, to think outside the box, to import the world of design to the French restaurant business. He took great risks, listened to no one, and became a great success. It’s so easy to distinguish his establishments from the multiple copycats. Yves Cambdeborde, former chef at the Crillon hotel, did it his way, listened to no one, and reinvented the gastro-bistrot, accessible to anyone. Without him, we wouldn’t have all these good bistros that assure our reputation with all those fine gourmets, for whom most of the Michelin-starred establishments are just for soulless tourists.

Name one positive trend that you see in the hospitality industry. Silent air conditioning. Because, in general, I don’t like air conditioning.

Negative trends? Noisy air conditioning. I also hate hotels where you can’t open the windows. Like in Tokyo.

What is something that people might not know about you? I snore when I sleep on my back, but not when I sleep on my stomach. So, there are worse people out there.

What are you doing tonight? I go out and eat every lunchtime, so, in the evenings , I go back to my place. This evening, for example, I’m going to finish The Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou, a sublime book on the condition of blacks in 1960s America. Then I’ll surely attack L’Exposition by Nathalie Léger, a short text on feminine dandyism. And then maybe I’ll get up again and write down on paper all the new whims that are inside of me to be able to sleep in peace.

Most anticipated event you have coming up in 2009? The first Le Fooding event in New York in September of this year, with a 99.99 % chance of happening.