1. the VIP treatment

le-bristol-paris-cherylstyle-cheryl-najafiI was lucky enough to spend the day with Michelin Star Chef, Eric Frechon, of Le Bristol Paris. Only special guests of the top chef have the unique opportunity to dine in his office.

While visiting Le Bristol, I learned that VIPs are always clamoring to meet Chef and enjoy a meal in his private lair. Of course, Frechon can’t run six successful kitchens, serving thousands of meals per day if he’s always entertaining. If you are truly special, however, he will prepare a private experience in his office for you.

The day I arrived, he had prepared a special place for a dear friend and customer from Russia. I was so honored to sneak a peek at the preparation for this intimate affair!

le-bristol-paris-cherylstyle-cheryl-najafi2. self-sustaining elegance

Le Bristol Hotel is a seriously self-sustaining establishment. When Chef handed me my coat he touted how everything at the hotel is done in-house. Not only do they wash and press their own linens, they cook everything from scratch! Every piece of bread, pastry, candy and main course is made on the property.

le-bristol-paris-cherylstyle-cheryl-najafiOnly raw ingredients like these giant bags of flour and meats like the above frog legs are brought into the kitchen. I got to taste so many delicious things, but I think my favorite may have been the croissant dough. Yes, I’m a dough hound—so yummy!

3. home-grown hospitality

Where the food is grown and raised makes a huge difference in quality! I learned, for example, that the chickens from Bresse are free range and are tended to as fastidiously as an English garden. This region produces the best chicken I have ever tasted!

le-bristol-paris-cherylstyle-cheryl-najafiChef taught me that if you start with poor quality, it doesn’t matter how well you cook—your dish will suffer in the end. Of course we can’t get these chickens in the US, but we can try to get the highest quality ingredients available when we cook.

You can imagine how shocked I was, however, to see the heads still attached to these superior little chickens. They looked too cute to cook.


le-bristol-paris-cherylstyle-cheryl-najafi4. flour girl

Don’t manhandle the dough! While rolling out pastry dough, Chef taught me to handle it as little as possible. “You don’t want to overwork the ingredients,” he said. The flour-coated butter is what produces a first-rate flaky crust as the butter melts in the oven.

What good is a pastry without the perfect, delicate, buttery flakes? Keep your contact with the dough to a minimum, rolling the dough enough to create the desired shape and size. Keep your paws to yourself after that!


5. history class

What I didn’t know prior to my visit was that the French helped the U.S. colonies win their independence from mother England. They even held an Independence Ball in our honor!

Who knew the French were so instrumental in our freedom from the English? Apparently, due to France’s rocky history with Britain, they felt the need to keep imperialism at bay—even in the New World.

French women wore celebratory hats to the Independence Ball that were replicas of war ships. The ship represented the efforts of the French Navy, which resulted in winning the war.


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