Paris Chef Pierre Jancou (Video)
Pierre Jancou is one of my favorite cooks in Paris. He does the seemingly simple task of taking raw elements – such as a pan of root vegetables – and making them taste better than you thought that vegetables could taste. I first came across his cooking when he was the chef/owner of Racines. I’d ordered a simple pasta Bolognese, which isn’t something I would usually order unless I was confident of the restaurant. (It’s one of those dishes that if done well, is great. But it takes a certain hand, and sensibility, to get it right.) However when I saw him slicing various kinds of Italian salumi (charcuterie) that I’d not seen in Paris, on a vintage Berkel slicer, into paper-thin slices and draping them on a plate, I took a chance on the pasta.
And I was glad I did: It was one of the best pastas I’ve ever had, anywhere. I still remember it today; a tangle of nearly translucent pasta just barely sauced (almost as if there wasn’t any on it), but the plate of pasta had a profoundly deep, meaty essence that I still remember nine years later.
Pierre went on to open Vivant and a wine bar next door to it, then nomadically took some time away from the kitchen, and is now back at Achille in Paris (43, rue Servan, 11th). I spent some time with him before he left Vivant, in the kitchen and at the bar, where he presided over an especially eclectic collection of natural wines, part of his mission to feature wines that are more than organic.
I’m looking forward to heading back to Achilles, now that it’s had time to find its legs. In the meantime, here’s a visit with the self-described “professional cook” Pierre Jancou.
Not shown: He made me tear up when he was talking about the beautiful products that he sources.
[More videos in my video archive.]