In the miniscule kitchen of his small Paris restaurant, Pascal Barbot uses his remarkably precise hands to turn out exquisitely good food. Barbot grew up in the Auvergne with lifelong plans to become a chef. After perfecting his skills with Alain Passard, he and a colleague opened L’Astrance (named for an Auvergnat wildflower) in 2000. In short order they racked up three Michelin stars. This was despite the fact that the restaurant has only 25 seats, is closed on weekends, and offers one no-choice menu, based on what the chef finds at the market.
Barbot has never let success go to his head and, unlike many chefs of his standing, he shows up at the restaurant for every single shift. Potential diners, on the other hand, don’t get through the door so easily, as L’Astrance is one of the city’s most coveted reservations. Those who score a table are rewarded by a cooking style that is contemporary and curious, infused with flavors from Barbot’s many travels abroad. His favourite tool is a mortar and pestle from Thailand. And his signature dish is a galette of foie gras marinated in verjus, then layered with paper-thin raw slices of white mushroom—a simple, perfectly balanced combination of humble and refined.