Photo: Louisa Chu
It’s easy to be jealous of David Lebovitz when you learn how he spends his days: spreading Bordier butter on toast, browsing through Paris’ open air markets, testing recipes, hopping in and out of bakeries and chocolate shops, trying the city’s numerous restaurants, and chronicling his delicious adventures in his books and on his blog, DavidLebovitz.com. Yes, it’s a sweet life, but someone’s gotta do it, and David Lebovitz had the foresight, motivation, and chutzpah to realize (early on) that that person should be him. His many fans would agree. After all, living vicariously through David’s blog is pretty sweet as well.
A former pastry chef who earned his stripes at Alice Waters’ famous Chez Panisse in Berkeley, David left California in 2002 to pursue culinary adventures abroad. When he got to Paris, he continued work on his blog, which he had begun in 1999, long before blogging had become the phenomenon that it is today.
Photo Courtesy of Randomhouse
In addition to providing practical advice and information about the food scene in Paris, David’s blog is rife with his signature “sass,” and it is this sass that has earned him his reputation as one of Paris’ most prolific and entertaining food bloggers. At a recent book event in Paris, David listed some of the things he would miss if he had to move away from the City of Light. Among them: French butter, inexpensive-but-good wine, young men with impossibly small waistlines, and the individual’s inalienable right to cut in line (any line). Despite David’s unique perspective on Paris, his appeal extends far beyond the borders of this city, and as he continues to promote his newest book, The Sweet Life in Paris, it’s clear that his fan base stretches around the world.
Though he’s feverishly publicizing the book these days, he took a moment from his busy schedule to answer a few of HiP’s questions.
HiP: Why is blogging in Paris more fulfilling than it might be elsewhere?
DL: Because there’s so much life on the street, there’s so much material! Plus all the bakeries, ice cream shops, and chocolatiers provide endless fodder. Of course, the eccentricities of life here are fun to report on as well.
HiP: Do you have any other favorite “food cities” besides Paris?
DL: My favorites are Barcelona and San Francisco, (which I consider the best food city in the world in terms of ingredients that are available and the restaurants that highlight them in their cooking).
HiP: What’s the biggest “eating mistake” that visitors to Paris can make?
DL: Not making a reservation. Elsewhere it’s normal to just walk in and expect to get seated. Here, having a reservation is like being invited for dinner; when you walk in, you’ll get a much warmer welcome since they’re expecting you.
The other mistake is the kind of service that’s expected. In France, there aren’t waiters hovering every thirty seconds adding another 1/2 inch of water to your glass, nor are they breathing down your neck and grabbing your plate away before you’ve even finished your last mouthful. Some visitors think the lack of constant attention is bad service, but in fact, it’s nice to be left alone to dine with your friends. And when you want something, just flag down the waiter and ask.
HiP: Any up-and-coming Parisian food stars (chefs, bakers, bloggers) that you have your eye on?
DL: I don’t know about up-and-coming ones, but places I like are the new restaurant, Frenchie, whose chef-owner Gregory Marchand lived in New York and England. Daniel Rose at Spring is already well-known, but I admire him for creating his own niche here in Paris. And of course, Pierre Jancou at Racines is doing market-fresh foods without the pretense, and promoting natural wines.
HiP: Are there any particular Parisian neighborhoods that you think are particularly food “rich?”
DL: The 6th. It’s not my neighborhood, but it’s where the greatest concentration of top-notch pastry and chocolate shops tend to cluster. For restaurants, I’d say there’s no neighborhood in particular, but the better places are in the outlying arrondissements, since the rents are cheaper and the younger chefs, who are doing more interesting things usually, can be found there.
HiP: What’s your idea of the perfect food day in Paris?
DL: Espresso at Pozzetto, then eating a croissant from Au Levain du Marais in the Place des Vosges. Lunch of a sardine sandwich or chicken with garlic mayo at Cuisine de Bar next to Poilâne, then over to Grom on rue de Seine for lemon granita, then back to the Place des Vosges for dinner at L’Ambroisie. That, of course, is assuming that money is no object.
HiP: If you weren’t a chef and star blogger, what other career might you have liked to pursue?
DL: A psychiatrist, because I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time helping people with their problems.
If David decides to become a psychiatrist, we hope he’ll let us know. In the meantime, we’re content to drool over his culinary findings and laugh at the situations in which he finds himself. For David Lebvoitz, it’s a sweet life indeed.
Make sure to check out David’s blog here.