Parisian restaurateur Philippe Baranes is the innovative force behind Braisenville, which allows guests to compose their own tasting menu “in what looks like a seventies California roadside kitchen” (in Paris) and more recently, the dessert-only restaurant Dessance in Marais. The restaurant aims to create “sweet cuisine” that works as both main courses and desserts.
“Some people find it confusing or even disturbing, but there’s no reason a dish can’t be savory and sweet at the same time,” Baranes told T Magazine.
This year at the Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival, Baranes and Dessance’s chef Christophe Boucher will host Dessert First: A Sweet Surprise, offering guests a glimpse of Paris’ sweet side in New York City at the International Culinary Center on Friday, October 17.
We spoke with Philippe Baranes about his ongoing quest to break culinary conventions, infuse food with an emotional connection, and “gastronomic moments.”
This interview is part of a series of interviews highlighting the chefs of the Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival.
What’s the inspiration behind the menu that you are preparing for your NYCWFF dinner?
I want to show that it is possible to create a new cuisine, even in the twenty-first century. What I've called "sweet cuisine" enables the discovery of new flavors and pushes back the frontier of savory and sweet. I also want to show that non-conventional drink pairings from major and local properties fit perfectly.
At NYCWFF dinner, people will discover our “sweet cuisine” which is fresh, innovative, based on the natural sugar of seasonal vegetables, fruits and plants, without any sugar or fat saturation.
People will taste plates of traditional savory products like cheese, foie gras, and fish subtly mixed with vegetables, fruits, and plants. People will also experience our “so desserts” discovering that they are gourmand and light at the same time. The drink pairings will mix selective champagne, wine, whiskey, and vegetal home-made beverages. For sure, people who like discovery and gastronomic moments, they will love it!
What's the one thing you want people to take away from your dinner?
The emotion and sensation of discovery felt in the very first bites.
What do you consider to be your best creation ever? What’s the best thing you’ve ever cooked?
I love creating new dishes. In Paris I have set up the first ephemeral restaurant, the first take-away of local and organic food, the first gastronomic casual restaurant using a charcoal, and the first gastronomic restaurant of sweet cuisine. Then I hope my best creation is still to come. Judging to the clients' approvals, I would say that the best thing I've ever cooked at that stage is the "Emulsion de ratte du touquet, pleurottes, shitaké, jus de cresson" currently served at Braisenville, my casual restaurant located in Paris’ ninth district. Not complicated, and tasty!
What's your favorite kitchen tool (beyond your knife)?
According to my wife, saucepans!
The Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival benefits hunger-relief organizations; do you think that chefs have a social responsibility beyond simply feeding people honestly and well?
I do think that chefs have a key social role regarding health, environment, and social integration through work and pleasure.
First, we have to promote fresh, local and organic products for healthy cuisine. I was a vegan and vegetarian and I know a lot about the virtue of single products. Secondly, we have to promote our jobs with passion to give qualifications and teach our savoir-faire. Thirdly, we have to provide clients with pleasure.
I am applying these guidelines daily in my restaurants Dessance and Braisenville.
Tickets are available now for Dessert First: A Sweet Surprise hosted by Philippe Baranes and Christophe Boucher: Part of the Bank of America Dinner Series.