As a teenager, Chef Aurore de Beauduy learned to cook her first French dish under the tutelage of a few renowned chefs. This experience ignited a passion for cooking that led her to study at France's Cordon Bleu Culinary School. Today, she draws on nearly life-long training as the executive chef of Vogue Bistro. Here she puts her skills on display each day in an open kitchen, where she infuses modern American dishes with French influences. She sears grass-fed Angus filet mignon, wraps puff pastry around Sicilian eggplant parmesan, and stirs pots of French rabbit-and-vegetable stew. Though these dishes take center stage, the bistro also stamps its signature on martinis. Each cocktail is named for a famous clothing designer and features Skyy vodka blended with ingredients such as fresh juices and fruit-infused liqueurs.
To extend her culinary influence, Beauduy assembles platters for on- or off-site catering that focus on her artistic presentation. And, in weekly introductory cooking classes, she teaches students how to prepare basic French recipes and how to properly pronounce the word "ratatouille."
As successful as he is today, it might be surprising to learn that restaurateur Alain Keller used to be a starving artist. The Swiss transplant struggled to get an acting career started in Paris, so he began to supplement his paltry income with serving jobs at iconic establishments such as Maxim’s and Laurent. He eventually came to New York to study musical theater, and found moderate success by landing roles in Cabaret and La Cage aux Folles. He continued to harbor a love for the restaurant industry, however, and partnered with his friend Anthony Ferré to open Le Chalet. According to the Phoenix New Times, Ferré started cooking as a teenager, and after his formal culinary education in Paris he went on to prepare meals for such elevated palates as the French prime minister and Swiss consuls. Naturally, the menu at Le Chalet is strongly influenced by French and Swiss tastes. Fondue is a favorite; the New Times adored the swiss-cheese version spiked with white wine, and said it was “irresistibly comforting—the kind of thing that you can’t stop eating even when reason tells you there’s more food on the way.” Like a French expatriate’s dreamscape, much of the menu is reserved for crepes—buckwheat flour goes into darker crepes stuffed with savory combinations such as scallops and leeks, and white flour is used for sweet crepes drizzled with chocolate ganache or salted caramel butter. The house specialty, however, is La Potence, a tower of beef tenderloin that’s flambéed tableside.
Chef Erasmo "Razz" Kamnitzer, namesake of Razz's Restaurant and Bar and seventh-generation chef, infuses flavors from his native Venezuela to his eatery's upscale fusion menu. Like all dinner-theater performers, Razz dazzles diners with stovetop pyrotechnics in his open show kitchen, simmering up spicy bouillabaisse full of shellfish and finfish, or ladling chops and fillets with lime sauce, tropical-fruit relish, lingonberry sauce, and other zesty flavors. Guests can pair savory bites with sips from the wine list, with selections available by the glass, bottle, or fluted barrel. Razz's also caters special events such as weddings and holiday parties.
Born and raised in France, chef Cedric S. Fichepain carried his family recipes and passion for traditional French fare across the pond in 1997. Four years later, Cedric cut the ribbon at Le Voltaire Restaurant, which serves up classics such as croque madame sandwiches and coq au vin stewed in white wine. The cellar's 1,000-bottle inventory of French wines has earned the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence eight years in a row, and the eatery was also recognized as one of the city's best French dining experiences in _Omaha Magazine'_s Best of Omaha 2012. The restaurant's lemon-yellow walls and rough-hewn wooden door create a rustic feel, and beneath a unique glass bar top is a display of carefully arranged dried flowers.
It might seem as if the owners of Zinc Bistro didn’t bother to consult a map when devising the concept for their new restaurant: a Parisian bistro by way of New York. But though Phoenix isn’t the likeliest home for such a place, you won’t hear any locals complaining. They’re too enamored with the round marble tables and wicker chairs that line the bistro’s sidewalk. Such overtly French accents seem right at home beside the burbling fountain on the garden patio, where guests share romantic dinners and afternoon cocktails. Though it certainly stands out in the parched Sonoran Desert, the patio isn’t the most notable aspect of Zinc Bistro. That honor belongs to chef Matt Carter’s contemporary bistro cuisine. The Phoenix native shows an uncommon understanding of classic French cooking techniques, whether he’s crafting crepes with Dungeness crab and lobster cream or finding the perfect balance of flavors in his foie gras risotto. As if that weren’t enough, there’s also an oyster bar where staff serve fresh seafood and hold shells to guests’ ears so they can hear the ocean while they eat.
In 2009, Richard and Isabelle Horvath took what would be a fateful trip from their native France to Scottsdale, Arizona. But despite falling in love with the city’s seemingly endless supply of sunshine, they felt something was missing: an authentic creperie. So, they returned to France, quit their jobs, moved to Scottsdale, and opened exactly the type of authentic, French eatery they had in mind. Inside their cozy creperie—made all the cozier with wooden, farm-style dining tables and walls bedecked with dinner plates—they fill organic buckwheat-flour crepes with savory fillings, such as roast chicken, herbed fingerling potatoes, sautéed scallops, and shaved ham. Dessert crepes sate sweeter cravings––the half & half crepe combines nutella and orange syrup, while the chef's special exotic crepe blends toasted coconut, dark chocolate, and bananas into an island-inspired treat that has been known to make eaters spontaneously sprout leis around their necks. Besides crepes, diners can find a taste of Paris in sandwiches built upon fresh, French baguettes, salads topped with warm chevre, and a modest selection of French wines.