An enchanted garden

Un jardin enchanté

Each month, Paris Match and Waww La Table invite artists and personalities to meet around a great chef to celebrate the gastronomic meal of the French, listed as a cultural heritage of humanity by UNESCO.

A dark-colored carriage door opens, this Thursday evening of October 21, on the secret place: a 19th century private mansion, in the heart of the 7th arrondissement of Paris, in the heart of the ministries district. It would have once belonged to a large family of industrialists, we will not know more. The host, anonymous and discreet, abandoned this crazy place for one evening to her friends Arabelle Reille and Peri Cochin, creators of "Waww La Table".

A smell of flowers is already spreading at the foot of the majestic freestone staircase warmed by a camouflage carpet in pastel tones. Nothing of the decor, a mixture of rare furniture, ethnic objects and other simpler, second-hand items that give it a soul can leave you indifferent. In the winter garden, with water green walls and a mirrored ceiling, a huge rectangular table, dressed along its entire length with an incredible flower path imagined by the florist Oz garden, awaits the guests.

Dans le jardin d'hiver, aux murs vert d'eau et au plafond en miroir, une immense table rectangulaire, habillée sur toute sa longueur d'un chemin de fleur inouï imaginé par le fleuriste Oz garden, attend les convives.

In its center, placed on a bed of moss, all kinds of flowers let emerge old slips, chosen one by one, and borrowed from the Vauclair gallery, specialist in ceramics and rattan so typical of the 19th century. The enchanting decor, designed by Cyril Karaoglan, took three hours to set up. Art insurer, curator in his spare time - it was he who organized the first Picasso exhibition last year in Beirut -, from Saint Tropez to Gstaadt, he is also renowned for his extravagant receptions. "To lay a pretty table, he says, you don't necessarily need a lot of resources, the secret to bringing it to life is to systematically place a few candles and flowers on it..." In the neighboring kitchen, a black apron on jacket in a white as dazzling as his smile, the starred chef, Akrame Benallal, gives his final instructions to his head chef, David Mantilla.

The chef tests some recipes refined during confinement

After a year of closure, his gourmet restaurant on rue Tronchet is finally reopening. This evening, he is testing some recipes refined during confinement which, he says, gave him the luxury of reinventing himself, of, creating, he who loves nothing so much as starting from a blank sheet. Appointed to feed the Olympic athletes of the 2024 Paris Games, a huge challenge that amuses him, he is just as delighted with this intimate one-night dinner. " Restaurants, he says, should all look like this: a unique and changing decor, for a different culinary experience every time, I love this idea. »

While Sarah Bodianu, her sommelier, serves a Moët-Hennessy champagne in the large white lounge with bubbles as light as conversations, designer Olivier Gagnère tells Cristina Cordula and Aurélie Bidermann how he took advantage of the period when everything was stopped to take stock of his workshop. Soon the Kréo gallery will finally present lamps designed long before the Covid set the planet ablaze. And on the site of Waww La Table we can get its “collabs”: a reversible candlestick, and a bowl. Those of Aurélie Bidermann are already online. She watched over these hand-embroidered placemats and napkins like the chef over his fires. With her table neighbor, businessman Jean-Marc Israel, Claire Chazal dwells on the astonishing painting of a faceless woman. The era of the JT, she says, is definitely over. It is now culture, rather than news, that she satiates.

Il teste ce soir quelques recettes peaufinées au temps d'un confinement qui, dit-il, lui a offert le luxe de se réinventer, de, créer, lui qui n'aime rien tant que de partir d'une feuille blanche.

Akrame's black egg, dressed in smoked charcoal, and accompanied by porcini mushrooms, is a magical moment. Silence around the table. The John Dory that follows, cooked in wet seaweed, and spiced up with a reworked blend of spices, a marvel. In her red lace dress, barely swallowing her dessert, Jamie McCourt, ex-ambassador of the United States in France at the time of Trump who appointed her, apologizes for having to spin in English: tomorrow her alarm clock will ring at 5 o'clock. Lawyer and businesswoman, still attached to our country, and even more to her culinary art, she greets the chef warmly: “Do you remember, when I came to dine alone at your restaurant, escorted by nice bodyguards… well I would come back, but without them. » Akrame calls it “unbeatable” on our grands crus. And we learn in passing that this blonde twig perched on a stiletto is the author of a cookbook dedicated to her children: “Cooking in a crowded life”: “cooking in an overwhelmed life. » Arrived on the arm of Nicolas Escoulan, the former government spokesperson, now deputy general manager and partner of the communication consulting firm Taddeo, Claire Chazal slips away while others go up to extend the joy of the festivities too long banned. " Making the ephemeral unforgettable”, Akrame Benallal's motto, has never seemed so right.

Caroline Eat

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