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Friday, February 26, 2016

Bordeaux’s Culinary Renaissance

                        All of Bordeaux has been revitalized, including its culinary scene.

What an irony that the world’s most famous wine city until recently was somewhat of a a wasteland for gourmet dining.  That is all changing.  Bordeaux has been catapulted into one of France’s culinary destinations with several well-known Michelin star chefs recently descending upon the town to open crème de le crème restaurants.

Bordeaux’s redevelopment efforts have paid off.  Big time.  The central part of the city has been under siege for > 10 years:  traffic-snarled streets in the historical section have been pedestrianized and cars rerouted around the periphery.  UNESCO helped out considerably by making Bordeaux the largest urban World Heritage site---this brought mega Euro’s for a multitude of improvement projects like revitalizing the city’s dilapidated and nearly abandoned riverside warehouses---they are now swanky apartments with breathtaking water-views.  A massive public transportation upgrade was undertaken---sleek trams running on rails now carry locals and tourists throughout the once congested city. 

These wide-scale improvement efforts have led to a synergistic fine-dining boom.   Joel Robuchon, one of Paris’ most famous three-star Michelin chefs, opened his namesake Bordeaux restaurant at the end of 2014.  Gordon Ramsay, another celebrity Michelin three-star chef from London, recently took the helm at the restaurant in Bordeaux’s Grand Hotel.  Café Opera, located in the city’s jewel box Grand Theatre, has been taken over by rock-star chef Phillippe Etchebest. 

There are equally impressive restaurants, however, being opened by non-Michelin star chefs.  Miles, a 28-seat eatery, was opened last year by young chefs who have worked in some of the finest three star Michelin restaurants in France.  Several of the owner-chefs were born outside of France and their fusion menu reflects their native countries of Israel, Vietnam, Japan and the South Pacific.  Belle Campagne is another food savvy restaurant, where locavore chefs source every ingredient from the southwestern area.

Also, fueling the serious food scene in Bordeaux is the opening of Ferrandi, one of France’s culinary colleges for top chefs.  Ferrandi opened its first outpost outside of Paris in Bordeaux.  This is spawning many new chefs, new dishes, and a new way of looking at the world of food.  

This gourmet renaissance has been synergistic with altering the culinary landscape of Bordeaux on all levels.  Food trucks are appearing.  An organic food store opened in the city's recent Darwin Center on the waterfront. Wine bars featuring tapas are opening (Le Millesime is especially good), and new boutique wine shops (try L'Univerre) are giving the old-guard shops a run for their Euro's.

Viva la difference!

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