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Chef Gregory Marchand, fondly known as “Frenchie”, shares his guide to the best bistros in Paris and defines French cooking with a modern tongue.
Jamie Oliver bestowed chef Gregory Marchand with the slightly obvious nickname of “Frenchie” when the pair worked together at Fifteen in London. Today, Marchand’s fleet of eponymously named fine-dining and casual restaurants highlight the moniker’s stickability.
Flitting between Paris and London, the Nantes native grew up on a medley of boire blanc and veal escalope (as well as some over-seasoned French toast courtesy of his grandmother’s heavy-handedness). Nowadays, the dishes he presents across his various postings are just as hearty – though at the Michelin-starred Frenchie Rue du Nil, they come plated in a more discerningly sophisticated manner.
Where are you from and how has that shaped or inspired you?
I am from Nantes, Loire Valley. Every region in France has regional food culture and you are raised in that food culture. From my side, that explains a lot.
What are your childhood food memories?
I grew up on boire blanc (the acidic butter sauce traditionally served with pike perch) and frog legs in parsley butter. We at a lot of escalope of veal “à la Normande”, with creamy mushroom sauce. My grandmother’s French toast – made with leftover baguette and way too much cinnamon – is a potent food memory for me.
How do you define French cooking?
It’s very regional and focuses on the most incredible produce. There is a real sense of simplicity, with each ingredient expressing itself to the fullest. Some might say it’s rich; I prefer to say it’s delicious.
Best bistros in Paris…
Le Comptoir from chef Yves Camdeborde, Bistrot Paul Bert from my friend Bertrand Auboyneau, Le Baratin by chef Raquel Carena and Franck Baranger’s Le Pantruche.
Tell us about “Frenchie”; how did it come about and where did the name come from?
My nickname was given to me by Jamie Oliver, who I worked under at Fifteen years ago. Since then, it’s just stuck.
What inspired you to start Frenchie?
Frenchie started as a place I would like to go and most importantly come back to. It is a mix of my experiences travelling around the world and the different cultures I encountered. It’s authentic, genuine and delicious.
Why was London your choice location when expanding the Frenchie brand overseas?
Spending most of my twenties in London had a huge impact on who I am today. After almost 10 years living in London, I left the city and inevitably started to miss it.
Where are your favourite places to eat in London?
Tell us some of your most loved and loathed food trends right now?
I feel fermentation has been taken a little too far; you see it on so many menus now. I do love seeing more vegetable-focused meals without being typified as vegetarian.
What’s been your career highlight so far?
It’s a tie. On 1st April 2019 Frenchie celebrated our 10-year anniversary in Paris and earlier this year, in January, Frenchie Rue du Nil received its first Michelin star.
What would be your last meal?
Frenchie’s bacon scone with clotted cream.
Food cities worth visiting…
A food tour around Paris or London, New York or Hong Kong is always a good idea. Marseille is an up-and-coming food city worth noting; book a table at Harry Cummins’ Paris Pop-up and Alexandre Mazzia’s AM par Alexandre Mazzia.
Favourite restaurant abroad?
What are you reading at the moment?
The Baltimore Boys by Joël Dicker.
Where’s your next adventure?
Enjoying life because it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.
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