I t’s been widely reported that Le Fooding is coming to New York this September—throwing chef-studded urban picnics at PS1 Contemporary Arts Center—but there’s some other great news coming from Paris that hasn’t made headlines yet: Omnivore, the iconoclastic restaurant guide and unapologetic champion of the more youthful, almost punk figures in France’s culinary scene, will bring a handful of chefs to cook in New York at almost the same time.
On Monday, September 14th, David Chang will turn his three restaurants over to a remarkable lineup of chefs for an Omnivore event called “Four Fucking Dinners,” in honor of a word favored by Chang. Pascal Barbot from L’Astrance (the most impossible reservation in Paris), will be taking over the kitchen of Momofuku Ko (the most impossible reservation in New York); Inaki Aizpitarte, of Le Chateaubriand, will be at Momofuku Noodle Bar; and Alexandre Gauthier, the rising star of La Grenouilliere will be at Momofuku Ssam Bar with David Kinch, the stealthy genius behind Manresa in California.
The fourth restaurant is WD-50, where Wylie Dufresne and Chang will be joined by Michel Bras. One of the deans of French cuisine, Bras rarely makes appearances in the United States, never mind leave his bucolic plateau in Laguiolle to cook on the Lower East Side.
There will also be one large meal, a free picnic in Central Park where eight chefs will each contribute a dish to what Luc Dubanchet, the founder of Omnivore, calls a “bento box performance.” Then there will be a series of demonstrations at the French Institute Alliance Française, master classes held by an impressive roster of French and American chefs (the final program is still being decided). Omnivore’s annual festival in France isn’t so public. Instead it’s more like a series of symposia for professionals, forums for exchanging cutting-edge techniques and new ideas. It’s a place where chefs tend to geek out; Omnivore is TED. The festival in New York will be a coming out party of sorts—for a new generation of highly skilled yet informal French chefs, who are mostly unknown on this side of the Atlantic. But maybe not for long.