Greg Marchand

Where do chefs escape to when they’re off duty? The man affectionately dubbed 'Frenchie' when he worked at London’s Fifteen in 2003, tells Fleur Rollet-Manus his secret go-to places

Outside of the Frenchie kitchen, where do we find you?

My everyday dining is, of course, not all two- and three-star restaurants. I have my local in Paris, not far from my house, down a quiet pedestrian road off Rue Léopold Bellan. It’s a small neighbourhood place called Le Rubis and we eat there a lot as a family and with friends. Having said that, I also recently ate at Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée. The menu is plant-based with a little bit of fish and I really wasn’t expecting that: the most expensive five-star hotel in Paris serving dishes that take on almost a rustic feel. In London’s Notting Hill, I had the most amazing dinner at Core by Clare Smyth – British food that blew my mind. And in New York, I visit Wildair, an American-French restaurant on Orchard Street in the Lower East Side.

Sounds like a lot of travelling. Do you get a summer break?

Every year from mid-July to mid-August my wife, two children and I spend four weeks in Ibiza, renting the same house on the north of the island. It’s really very chilled as we’re past the raving stage. Just lots of long, lazy lunches on the beach – cooking big barbecues and eating simple seafood and salads with friends.

It’s been quite a year, especially for Frenchie, Paris.

Yes, we won our first Michelin star in January and this coincided with our 10th birthday year. Frenchie, Frenchie Bar à Vins and Frenchie To Go are all located in Rue du Nil so we decided to hold a big street party. There was lots of wine and we invited every chef that has been with us since the very start. Each of my sous chefs made a dish and the whole thing stretched to a three-day celebration – along with a three-day recovery.

When you opened in Paris, you bought your produce from the vans in the street. Where do you go now?

I import all of my cheese from Neal’s Yard Dairy, which is quite ironic, to have a wine bar in Paris that serves all British cheeses. People are usually a little pessimistic to start with, but then they are gladly surprised and eager to try new things.

You define Frenchie Covent Garden like a ‘modern French brasserie’. How would you describe your style?

There is the same elegant Parisian spirit, at the same time both refined and relaxed. It’s a combination of four years of French cookery school and ten years of travelling the world. It shows what you can do with French food when you embrace different cultures.

So, back in Paris, what can we expect on the menu?

I don’t know and you won’t either – dinner is carte blanche. Whatever we get that day, we’ll cook and serve you. Tell us what you like to eat and we’ll design the menu around you. I’ve gained a lot of grey hairs over the last ten years by doing this, but nothing beats the look of joy on people’s faces when they try the food.

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