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Women In Food & Wine: Ladies Of the Paris Dining Scene, Part I

Ladies in Food, Holybelly, HiP Paris Blog, Photo by Holybelly, Kim Laidlaw 2

Lise Kvan and Sarah Mouchot at Holybelly (Holybelly & Kim Laidlaw)

As we know well, the promise of gastronomic delights is enough to inspire travelers to explore the world, seeking out hard-fought reservations and off-the-beaten-path restaurants in the name of really good food.

Ladies in Food, Yamtcha, HiP Paris Blog, Photo by Didier Gauducheau

Adeline Grattard of Yam’tcha (Didier Gauducheau)

It’s easy to forget that behind these curated culinary experiences there is a team of dedicated professionals committed to using their talents and passions to improve and diversify the general landscape of food and dining. Certain events, TV shows, publications, and guidebooks spotlight some of these talented and resolute food professionals.

Ladies in Food, HiP Paris Blog, Photo by La Buvette

La Buvette

While these “foodie guides” are becoming more and more ubiquitous, they are unfortunately not always comprehensive as they far too often exclude women from their lineup.

Ladies in Food, Yamtcha, HiP Paris Blog, Photo by Didier Gauducheau

Yam’tcha (Didier Gauducheau)

There are some inclusive food publications and events — in 2013, the French food guide Le Fooding hosted an event entitleded Le Clan des Madones which featured over a dozen female chefs in some of Paris’ most exciting and adored eating establishments, including Adeline Grattard of Yam’tcha and Camille Fourmont of La Buvette.

Ladies in Food, Le Bal Café, HiP Paris Blog, Photo by Carin Olsson

Le Bal Café (Carin Olsson)

More recently the 2014 incarnation of Omnivore Paris invited Alice Quillet and Anna Trattles of Paris’ Le Bal Café to take the stage. These inspiring and innovative women are part of a community of female food professionals that are changing the gastronomic experience in Paris, setting up shop in small spaces and unexpected ways and changing the eating experience for food lovers across the capital.

What follows is the first part in a two-part series on some of the innovative women currently shaping the Paris food scene. They are behind some of the best food and drink decisions you will make in the city and are playing a major role in shaping what has yet to come.

Ladies in Food, HiP Paris Blog, Photo by La Buvette

La Buvette

In this first installment, we focus on the women we rarely see because they are so often slaving away in the kitchen to make the food we’ve come to associate with some of our favorite Paris restaurants and cafés.

Ladies in Food, HiP Paris Blog, Photo by La Buvette

La Buvette

As half of the critically acclaimed duo Emperor Norton, Alannah McPerson Tavallai came to cooking as a way to soothe homesickness after her move abroad. It all began when she and her husband Omid started a blog where they shared recipes for all the comfort foods that they missed. Posts on tamales, donuts, and cake soon found favor among expats and Alannah remembers that “the people who were the most interested turned out to be the ones living here in Paris…they kept asking us to share.”

The rest is history in the making — from dinners in their tiny Parisian apartment to pop-up brunches, and now a full-blown bespoke catering and baking

Mascara being got previous another reasonable very the.

venture. Alannah is a conspicuous co-conspirator in a culinary revolution which embraces creativity with kitchen space (Emperor Norton have arguably the most industrious approach to securing oven and counter space) and eschews a traditional approach to the baking business.

Ladies in Food, HiP Paris Blog, Photo by Kristen Beddard

Kristen Beddard

Alannah cites many “unsung pioneers” as inspirations among women in the Paris food scene, including Kristen Frederick (Le Camion Qui Fume), “who made the impossibility of food trucks possible”, Lise Kvan and Sarah Mouchot (Holybelly), Forest Collins (52 Martinis) and Kristen Beddard (The Kale Project), saying that “these women did not accept the ‘c’est pas possible!’ answer and we’re all benefitting.”

Ladies in Food, HiP Paris Blog, Photo by La Buvette

Ladies in Food, Le Bal Café, HiP Paris Blog, Photo by Carin Olsson

Top image: La Buvette & Bottom image: Le Bal Café (Carin Olsson)

It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t love Holybelly, because people don’t just like this cozy spot in the 10th arrondissement, they really do love it. This is largely thanks to chefs Sarah Mouchot and Lise Kvan, who work tirelessly away in their open kitchen, situated next to a giant blackboard enumerating ingredients that are currently in season.

Ladies in Food, Holybelly, HiP Paris Blog, Photo by Holybelly, Kim Laidlaw

Lise Kvan and Sarah Mouchot at Holybelly (Holybelly & Kim Laidlaw)

The blackboard isn’t just decoration, both Sarah and Lise come from a culinary background where good food made from fresh ingredients is essential. Sarah explains, “I came from the north of France, a small country town where you ate what you could grow, and my dad was really good at feeding us with what was in season.” Similarly, Lise has a passion for food which includes “an awareness towards sustainability and locality” and also extends to “a medium for creativity and expression [and] an instantaneous opportunity for cross-cultural dialogue.”

Team Holybelly is ahead of a long awaited curve that involves intention and authenticity in la cuisine. “I think transparency is going to become a big thing in the food scene in Paris” Sarah explains, “I think a lot of restauranteurs got lazy and highjacked the bistro culture, taking advantage of the French food reputation abroad, but I’m convinced it’s over now.” Lise agrees, predicting that this new attitude towards food will involve a “reevaluation and reinvention of [the French] agricultural and culinary prowess and a rejection of prepackaged, nutritionally diluted, frozen food.”

Ladies in Food, Yamtcha, HiP Paris Blog, Photo by Didier Gauducheau

Yam’tcha (Didier Gauducheau)

Amidst debate about how and whether or not French restaurants should label the origins or qualify the preparation of their food, the fact that this argument is even necessary makes the culinary scene seem bleak. But, Lise asserts, “France is reclaiming its title of gastronomic adeptness.” After talking with these passionate and talented women one thing is sure, France’s reputation for gastronomic adeptness is in very good hands.

Ladies in Food, HiP Paris Blog, Photo by La Buvette

La Buvette

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Written by Emily Dilling Poulain for the HiP Paris Blog. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, London, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.

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Written by Emily Dilling

Emily DillingEmily Dilling is a Paris-based American. She is the founder of the blog Paris Paysanne, which documents her quest to find local farmers and seasonal produce at Paris markets. Emily’s writing has also appeared in publications such as The Huffington Post (US & French editions), Ecosalon, The Portland Mercury, and Local Spotter.

Website: Paris Paysanne

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