Senderens: No stars but lots of skill

Alain Senderens is one of the founding fathers of Nouvelle Cuisine but never got as much media interest as when he “gave back” his three stars to Michelin in 2005 (after almost 30 years on the 3-star-summit). Back then, he claimed that he was no longer convinced by the criteria and overall concept of the world’s most renowned food guide.

That he had reached the age of 66 might have played a role. That it was easier to make money without using crystal glasses and heavy silver tableware, might also have been a factor. But anyway, Senderens restarted his business and gave it a new, lighter twist. He might have handed in his stars but he has kept all his skill.

Dinner at Senderens is still a rare experience. The dining rooms in the Hausmannian palace right at one corner of the Madeleine are not as plush as you might imagine, but tastefully furnished the modern way. You can still feel the grand old aura of the "Lucas Carton" as the place was named before Senderens’s fresh start. The menu has changed since then, of course, ingredients have become less luxurious (less Michelin), and you’ll find Rougets now instead of Turbot and Spanish Pork instead of Veal fillets, but everything is perfectly handled, done with care, arranged with the finesse you expect in a grand Parisian restaurant.

Allways going for the real

The best thing about Senderens is his love affair with culinary adventure. In the 1970s, he had already begun to use Japanese products and Asian flavours in his high-class cuisine. He still does, and it’s only for the best of his customers. Don’t be surprised when a traditional French veal tartar is served with rice vermicelli or if you find traces of saké in the sauce that comes with a nice slice of cod.

I had the opportunity to meet Senderens recently during a special lunch celebrating high Japanese cuisine. And I learnt that he’s not only a great cook but a nice man, too. One of those rare chefs who always goes for the real, pure, authentic and overall tasty ingredients and meals, who constantly tries to give a new twist, a new edge to traditional dishes – and who never forgets that they have to please their customers first. For people who love food and who are ready to pay the price of excellent fare, Senderens is a must.

9, place de la Madeleine
75008 Paris
+33 (0) 1 42 65 22 90
Metro: Madeleine