An interview with Christophe and Véronique FRANÇOIS, pioneers of bistronomy in Nantes and creators of the “Mystery Menu” concept.
Christophe François, a Chef born in a sauce pot!
Right from the outset, Christophe FRANÇOIS knew what he wanted and where he was going. “From the age of seven I wanted to be a chef!” he says. One of his grandmothers cooked savoury dishes, the other preferred sweet; he quickly got a taste for the art and enrolled at the Institut Vatel.
His first experience as a Chef was in the kitchens of the Maison Cazaudehore, Relais & Châteaux in St-Germain-en-Laye. At the age of 25, he and his wife Véronique took over their first gastronomic restaurant, Les Epis d’Or in Champagne sur Oise. There he created the “Mystery Menu” concept (clients specify whether they would like meat or fish, red, white or rosé wine and the chef takes care of everything else). The aim was to change the eating habits of clients. In 2008, wanting to be closer to the sea, he moved to Nantes and bought a bistro: Les Chants d’Avril was born.
Les Chants d’Avril, the perfect setting to indulge a passion
And so it was in the very heart of the Champ de Mars neighbourhood that Christophe and his wife found happiness.
“At the time, bistronomic cuisine had just arrived in Paris but it was still unheard of in Nantes. It was a concept we liked and, above all, one that suited us. We were delighted to be close to the sea again and the numerous producers in the region also encouraged us to set up here. The quality and freshness of local produce also enabled our Mystery Menu to shine. ”
His suppliers are local and share the same values
“I opt for suppliers with a short distribution chain with whom I build up a personal relationship; it’s a golden rule.
My weekends are spent seeking out new producers. You have to know how to talk to a client about a good product – give them its history. That is why it is worth going and meeting the suppliers and understanding their production methods.”
“At Les Chants d’Avril we only use French products. Clients come from the world over to taste and discover our local cuisine so we have to work exclusively with products from here and adapt to the seasons.”
Choosing duck Foie Gras
“At the MIN [National Interest Market], the firm Palmiloire supplies us with Alain FRANÇOIS Foie Gras which comes from ducks slaughtered that same morning. You can’t get fresher than that, so it meets my standards!
My Foie Gras is completely wrapped fresh or quick-frozen. It is gutted immediately and then quick-frozen within two hours. The fatty cells do not have time to get to work which guarantees me minimum melt when it comes to cooking.”
In his restaurant, Christophe treats you to original and creative recipes. Concocted from Foie Gras, his fritters, stuffed guinea-fowl tournedos and saddle of rabbit delight the most discerning foodies. The chef does not hesitate in combining tasty flavours imaginatively when he uses Foie Gras, creating kiwi, vanilla, chocolate, Port and even whisky terrines.
“Knowledge, know-how and knowing how to share knowledge.”
2 rue Laënnec 44000 Nantes 02 40 89 34 76