A Chef named Fred: Part 1

It was lunchtime in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés area of Paris, and I was looking for somewhere to eat away from the usual tourist traps. I turned down a quiet street and saw an unassuming bistro, and walked into an intimate setting, no more than about 15 tables, many of them adorned with vases of pink hydrangeas that suggested to me that a woman might own the establishment.

This was confirmed to me when I took a quick trip to the bathroom and discovered multiple rolls of toilet paper and hand towels, all in various shades of pink and red.

And also when I was seated afterwards by the engaging Fédérique Noiret, a woman of a certain age who was in fact the restaurant’s owner and manager.

This was more fortuitous that you might think because I was looking for a female chef and restaurateur to interview knowing that while there are now more women chefs in Paris (men still drastically outnumber women and dominate this industry*) Fédérique, or Fred as her patrons call her, literally fell into my lap.

What I love about these small French bistros, Fred herself brought over the day’s menu on a chalkboard. Short menus like these are good indicators that the chef is preparing food with the freshest ingredients.

Fred changes her menu every day, offering a variety of tantalizing courses, a starter (entrée) and a main (plat), or a main and dessert plus coffee for 19.80 euros/$22 US/$30 Canadian. Vegetables are Fred’s particular passion as was evident with her starters, salade des légumes or légumes en charlotte, a medley of green beans, arugula and asparagus with a creamy vinaigrette. For my main course, I sunk my teeth into a succulent travers de porc poêlée sautés, slightly sweet short ribs accompanied by more buttery small white potatoes than I could ever eat.

Over coffee, and as the lunch crowd receded, Fred sat down to chat. This rarely happens in the larger restaurants. Fred started telling me about how she decided to reinvent herself as a chef about a decade ago. Not easy feat to go back to school in middle age she said and start over in such a competitive field. Before that,  she worked in the film and television industry. In fact, both her parents had been actors. As our conversation continued I made a surprising discovery.

Which I will tell you about next week — you won’t want to miss that.

*Note: In 2016 of the 54 French restaurants and chefs awarded Michelin stars — none were women! One French woman received her first star in 2017. I can find only two women recipients in France for 2018.

Here are some of Fred’s delicious dishes at Au Coup Du Torchon– worthy of a Michelin star in my opinion!

Au Coup De Torchon

6 rue des Ciseaux
75006 Paris

Open for lunch and dinner Tuesday to Saturday.

www. aucoupdetorchon.fr

8 Comments

  1. Luci Rizzo on January 13, 2019 at 9:30 am

    U r a temptress. Now i must wait till next week for the surprise!

    • Diana Bishop on January 13, 2019 at 9:59 am

      Haha — the story was too long for just one blog. But having lunch there was sublime.

  2. Nur Cowan on January 13, 2019 at 3:53 pm

    Hi Diana,
    I love following you on your blogger.
    I love Paris. When I was working, my head office was in Paris. I those days my company would pay for me to stay at George V. Those were the days!
    Let me know when you are back in Ontario.
    Warm wishes, Nur

    • Diana Bishop on January 14, 2019 at 8:54 am

      Nur, Hi. How are you? I hope this finds you well. Thank you so much for following me on my blog.
      That must have been quite the treat to stay at the George V on business. What company was that you worked for? Diana

  3. Pino Correale on January 19, 2019 at 8:39 am

    You’re a real PRO Dear Diana ! What a beautiful write up……..and may i add…..an elegant diction.
    Coming from you i am not a bit surprised. Je t’aime de tout mon couer ma cherie” .

    • Diana Bishop on January 19, 2019 at 9:16 am

      Pino,
      How lovely to hear from you! And thank you so much for reading my blog. I am one of your dedicated followers on Instagram!
      I am loving writing this blog. I am a journalist again with all sorts of plans to use my business background to expand it into a real business. Stay Tuned et moi aussi, je t’aime ave tout mon coeur! A bientot!

  4. Ann Bradf on January 20, 2019 at 9:52 am

    Diana,
    I am enjoying your blog immensely. Brings me back to the days when my husband and I lived in London and we would pop over to Paris for the weekend. It has a special place in my heart ❤️.
    A bientot!

    Ann

    • Diana Bishop on January 20, 2019 at 11:32 am

      Ann, Thank you for reading my blog and for your comments.I am so glad you are enjoying it. I would love to hear about your experiences in Paris.
      I really enjoyed the meeting the other day. What a great group of women and they are so lucky to have you as their chair. I look forward to the next one!

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