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Private restaurants

Dinner is served!

UNESCO has dubbed French cuisine a world cultural heritage. If you really want to experience it, you are best making a reservation at a “table d’hôte”, one of Paris’ many private restaurants.


The silence of the lambs? Not in France. Benoît was extremely enthusiastic: about the breeder, the juicy Périgord meadows, the tenderness of the meat. He eloquently praised the sensuous character of every carrot and every wine, and for the first time ever I realised the erotic relationship that some French people have with their food. I was new in Paris and wanted to expand my circle of friends. I thought that the best way to meet new people would be at a private dinner. Initially, I was actually disappointed by the supposedly legendary French cooking: the majority of my friends are stressed with their kids and work, and so feed themselves with frozen dinners and microwave ready-meals. The metres upon metres of convenience food shelves in Paris supermarkets show that they’re not the only ones. One point in their defence: it goes without saying that the city’s tiny apartments and kitchens limit people’s culinary ambitions and any plans to hold big dinner parties.

I found what I wanted on the website www.cookening.com, where you can still find real cooking artists and enthusiastic farmer’s market visitors. Here hobby chefs offer menus at their private dining table for different prices. And that’s how I found myself in Benoît’s impressive apartment high above the elegant Place Vendôme on a horribly cold January evening, joined by five other guests. He is an anthropologist, a photographer and an Amazon researcher. When he’s in Paris, he lives for his second passion: cooking. He apparently doesn’t need money. He simply holds these private dinners because he doesn’t feel like cooking for himself and because he enjoys meeting new people.

Michel-Antoine Daumas was the head of an advertising agency for more than 20 years before he founded “Fingle” (www.fingle.fr) because of his pure passion for cooking. His private “Maison de cuisine” is hidden in a backyard in Montmartre. He offers cooking classes and wine tastings, invites guests to empty his fridge with him and to create a meal together. Lazy people can also simply book a meal with him. From six guests and up he serves delectable haute cuisine in his spacious salon. He is a man of conviction and skilful chef with a true Parisian spirit who truly enjoys telling his guests tales of his city. 

One of the most unusual table d’hôtes can be found in the former cooling chambers of Paris in the 13th arrondissement – the former industrial ruins “Les Frigos”, which were transformed into studios by artists in the 1980s. Emilie Suzanne Birot’s father ranks among the very first creative minds. She is a trained chef who grew up among graffiti and street artists. Right in the heart of the brightly painted concrete walls, she now manages “The Office”, where she serves up exquisite meals with underground flair (www.theofficelatable.com). From 10 people and up you can book this special location for a private dinner party, but there are also evenings where it is open to the public. As soon as she has more than two reservations, she serves up her seasonally changing surprise menu, which is always a feast for the eyes and the palate. You can even bring your own wine. What an unforgettable experience! Nowhere are you closer to Paris than at the dinner table of one of its residents.

Bon appétit!