How Two Chefs Took a 75,000-Calorie Tour of France

Kate Krader wrote . . . . .

So, American person, you think you ate a lot at Thanksgiving? You probably did. By most accounts the average Thanksgiving meal clocks in at about 4,500 calories. And that doesn’t count all the beer, whiskey, and cider you might have been consuming. Or the potato chip salad you could have made.

That’s merely an average day of eating for chefs Shane McBride and Daniel “Chino” Parilla when they’re researching a restaurant. At least it was when the pair went on a tour of some of Paris and Lyon’s most classic restaurants in preparation for the wondrous new New York restaurant Augustine, which they opened with legendary restaurateur Keith McNally. Over the course of 10 days, McBride and Parilla ate some of France’s most famous dishes. They estimate that in the course of their research, they consumed some 75,000 calories-worth of food.

If you want to recreate the chefs’ epic culinary adventure in the two capitals of French cuisine, the blueprint is below. Just remember to pack loose fitting clothing. And bon appetit.

Day 1, Paris

Le Voltaire, Lunch

This überclassic bistro is right off the Seine, close by the Louvre, and boasts red velvet curtains, soft lighting and mainstays of French cuisine.

Key Dishes: salade gourmande, a composed salad with foie gras; entrecôte with bordelaise sauce; escargot; apple tart tatin with a pot of whipped crème fraîche.

Takeaway: “The salade gourmande shaped the one we serve at Augustine now,” says McBride. “And we wanted to do a version of their entrecôte: It’s a thin rib-eye, quickly grilled and gratinéed with bone marrow on top. It kept getting side swiped when we did at tastings at the restaurant, but we still might put it on; it’s delicious.”

L’Ami Louis, Dinner

This quintessentially old-school Paris restaurant is notorious for its brusque service (they’ve been known to politely take your coat, then toss it up on a rack), the dangerous trip down the steep stairs to the bathroom and oddball décor, such as jelly jar water glasses with Star Wars icons on them. The menu is a pricey roundup of the greatest hits of classic French cooking.

Key Dishes: foie gras terrine; escargot; roast chicken for two; côte de beouf; berries with crème fraiche.

Takeaway: “You start with foie gras terrine—four thick slices, the size of my hand, and I have pretty big hands,” relates McBride. “It’s served with a towering pile of buttered toast. and then you get a pot of butter alongside. That dish alone is 2,000 calories. ”

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