Fou de France A Chance for Little-Known French Chefs to Shine

PARIS -- If you want a list of up and coming chefs from all regions of France, just ask Alain Ducasse, a top chef who seems to have his fingers in every pot. In any profession, there are few greater goodwill gestures than a master encouraging the beginners, and with his two-year-old program -- Fou de France -- Ducasse is clearly working to assure the new generation of French chefs will get a chance to shine.

The program goes like this: From January to April, six different young chefs from various regions of France come to Paris to offer a menu at the Relais Plaza, in the Hotel Plaza Athénée and adjacent to Ducasse’s Michelin three-star restaurant. Each chef sets off the two-week stint with a press lunch, to which he invites a local winemaker as well as a local supplier, be it an artisanal sheep grower, a man who smokes wild eel, a gardener, a market gardener, a truffle farmer, or a cheesemaker. For the next two weeks, the chefs at the Relais Plaza execute the young chef’s menu, which is offered at lunch only along with the restaurant’s regular menu. The menus are as varied as the regions spotlighted, each focusing deeply on local specialties, be they wild watercress, goat, home-smoked Picodon cheese, baby fava beans, first-of-season asparagus, or fresh Munster cheese.

None of the chefs – all male – are known outside their region, with most of them directing their own restaurant. All are under the age of 40. Chefs are selected by a group that, along with Ducasse, includes Michelin three-star chef Georges Blanc, guidebook author Marc de Champerand, editor of the Guide Champerand, and Jean-Claude Ribaut, food and wine critic for Le Monde.

These, then, are the chefs who may become the grands of the future:

Chefs who have already appeared this year:

January 17 to 30:

Aquitaine: Francis Gabarrus
Villa Stings
Rue du Port
40180 Saubusse
Telephone: 05 58 57 70 18.

January 31 to February 13:

Languedoc-Roussillon: Jean-Marc Boyer
Le Puits du Trésor
Route des Quatre Châteaux
11600 Lastours
Telephone: 04 68 77 5024. Email: contact@lepuitsdutresor. Internet:

Current and upcoming chefs:

February 21 to March 6:

Brittany: Jean-Marie Baudic
Au PeskedV59 rue Légué
22000 Saint-Brieuc
Telephone: 02 96 33 34 65

March 7 to 20:

Rhône-Alps: Cédric Denaux
15 place de l’Esplan
26130 Saint-Paul Trois Châteaux
Telephone: 04 75 96 64 64

March 21 to April 3:

Poitou-Charentes: Christophe Cadieu
Restaurant Christophe
46 place de la Libération
86310 Saint Savin
Telephone 05 49 48 17 69.

April 4 to 17:

Alsace: Thierry Schwartz
Le Bistrot des Saveurs
35 rue Sélestat
67210 Obernai
Telephone: 03 88 49 90 41.

For reservations, contact:

Relais Plaza
25 Avenue Montaigne
Paris 8
Telephone: 01 53 67 64 00.