Culture

Celebrity chef Pooja Dhingra’s Parisian love affair

Exploring the French cuisine, one bite at a time

Whether it’s devouring your freshly-made pain au chocolate at a local café, macaron hopping down Champs Élysées, or wining and dining your way through Paris's many michelin star restaurants, the city of love knows that the way to your heart is through the perfect Parisian platter. India’s favourite pastry chef Pooja Dhingra agrees whole-heartedly — the founder of Le15 Patisserie recently visited the city to retrace her steps back to her alma mater, Le Cordon Bleu, which also gave the celebrity chef a chance to experience the city as a former-student-turned-tourist. From tête-à-têtes with world-renowned French chefs to baking macarons with her alumni, Pooja lists down all of her amazing moments from her Parisian trip.

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Paris – where food and fashion merges

What’s an exciting way to explore the cuisine of a fashion capital while also admiring its world-famous monuments? Via luxury bus-restaurant Bustronome, of course. 

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Prepare to whet your appetite as you are served the best gourmet dishes aboard a high-end double decker bus. “Bustronome is the best experience for someone who's new to the city — the whole time I was thinking we are actually eating dinner on a bus,“ says Pooja.

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When in Paris, do what Parisians do


If you prefer to explore the city by foot, then the walking tour complete with tastings by Meeting the French would be right up your alley. "The walking tour is the best. It includes Harry's Bar, which is my favourite — I used to visit the place even during my student days. Our tour guide was straight out of a Woody Allen movie — we started from Harry's Bar where we drank incredible cocktails and explored the historical significance of the place. The next stop was Hugo & Victor, a patisserie where we tried some Gelatos, followed by a tasting session of artisanal chocolates at Edwart, and finally ending the evening at Angelina, a Paris landmark known for its hot chocolate which is a must-have when you're in Paris," recommends Pooja. 

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The best cocktail of cuisine and culture

Who better to guide you through the French cuisine than world-renowned chefs themselves? Pooja met with three chefs: Chef Christophe Michalak, Chef Akrame Benallal and Jacques Genin who happily expounded on the French cuisine and its culture.

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"Chef Christophe Michalak's journey is quite inspiring as it is quite similar to mine. He showed us around in his lab and kitchen and gave us solid insights on the changing food trends in France — the pastries and cakes they sell are all very textured and light, very different than the traditional French pasty (which are full of butter and sugar). We associate France with chocolate and croissants, but there's a definite change in attitude. People are more health-conscious now and prefer gluten-free and lighter options,” says Pooja. "Jacques Genin, the chocolatier, made us try all his products — his caramels are incredible, and he guards the recipe with his life,” she laughs. 

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If you’ve always thought of European food as a cuisine that doesn’t suit your diet, newly-launched Parisian restaurants are here to prove you wrong. The French are experimenting with more flavours and cuisines now than ever before, and their rendition of Indian food is an absolute must-try. Pooja says, "Akrame, a young modern chef, showed us around his restaurant and offered a big plate of desserts. One of his new restaurant's cuisine is inspired by the silk route, and has Lebanese, Asian and Indian food. I devoured the cheese naans — they’re simply out of this world,” she recalls.

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Food, fashion, culture — Paris is the epitome of it all. No matter if you’re visiting for the first time or revisiting your roots like Pooja, France warmly welcomes everyone to its stylish lifestyle. So, when are you booking your tickets?

Visit Atout France at in.france.fr to inquire about France.