They’re all sommeliers! Inside the restaurant, they all wear the little bunch of grapes on their jacket collar, including the manager. (That’s the price you have to pay to get Philippe Faure-Brac to share his love of wine. Let’s go with the flow, enjoy the moment.)
Starting with the wine to end up choosing the dish that best goes with that wine (its style, age...), but also according to season, atmosphere and mood in the air (yes, the actual weather); this is how this ‘world’s best sommelier’ operates, nurturing since catering school where he took the sommelier exams under his own steam.
How does he work on the ground with Jean-André Lallican, his chef for six years?
As a matter of course, the wines determine the menu which changes four times a year. Château Moulin-Riche’s Saint-Julien 2000 calls for a ‘confit de canard Parmentier’ (minced refried duck) in a wine sauce. A touch of Maury 1998 from Domaine La Coume du Roy helps a chocolate and cèpe Fondant in an Arabica sauce slip down nicely.
More specifically, when creating a meal, a dinner, "it’s like writing a story, a script with the wines."
You can see one of Philippe Faure-Brac’s battle plans for preparing a dinner alongside.
On the right, the wine. E.g. Domaine Leccia rosé 2004. On the left, food for thought for the kitchen: a thin strip of smoked salmon and chilled fennel mousse.
You could even say the wine’s in the driving seat. If the impetus comes from a red wine, and we have turbot, it’s up to him to work it out with the wine. So you might cook it with some grainy potatoes and meat juices.
But you have to be careful when serving the meal, "you need to listen to what’s going down. You have to be ready to adapt the script according to who’s in the restaurant, their reactions, memories... We don’t impose."
Gosh, we’d be willingly imposed upon all the same.
Philipe Faure-Brac, world’s best sommelier in 1992, opened the Bistrot du Sommelier (also picked for its arched cellar) in 1984 (he was 24).
He’s written many books: "Saveurs complices des mets et des vins" (Matching food & wine flavours), "Les grands vins du siècle" (The century’s greatest wines), for example; and takes part in radio and TV shows, which he believes bring out his educational side.
He has many work engagements all at once on the international sommelier circuit, and its distinctions.
You can find him every Saturday on In Vino BFM, Alain Marty’s cult show on BFM (at 10am).
Latest work: Bordeaux, le choix du sommelier (Bordeaux, the sommelier’s choice)
At the Bistrot du Sommelier, don’t miss
- the ‘Saveurs complices’ (‘Flavours made for each other’) menu, seasonal menus with five food & wine pairings.
- Fridays with Winemaker’s guest table (booking essential).
Bistrot du Sommelier
97, boulevard Haussmann
+ 33 (0)1 42 65 24 85