by Ray Rogers
After a five-year hiatus from New York City, venerated 72-year-old French chef Joël Robuchon returns with a boon for plant-based culinary seekers: his first all-vegetarian tasting menu at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in the Meatpacking District. From the pops of red along the 34-counter seating overlooking the open kitchen to the artful plating and presentations (to wit, the ceremonial removing of Seussical glass dish covers) there’s no shortage of “wow” moments in this most Instagrammable of restaurants. Of the five courses on Robuchon’s new vegetarian tasting menu, the delicate, roasted baby artichokes with chickpea cream and the mini eggplant confit with vegetable curry alone were worth repeat visits.
“My newfound focus on health and wellness stems from my personal health issues,” Robuchon tells Purist. “I constantly had a headache and felt very tired, so I went to the doctor and learned that I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar.” A complete dietary overhaul lead to Robuchon dropping 60 pounds over the past year. “I don’t enjoy working out, so I relied on a change in my diet to help lose the weight—I cut out butter and sugar,” he says. “I continue to eat foods I enjoy, but make sure they are prepared in a healthier way, and use a lot of spices to add flavors.” Seasonal, local, organic produce now inspires his offerings at the restaurant, and in his daily life: “I begin each day with the same breakfast—an organic tomato and avocado with fleur de sel.” 85 10th Ave., joelrobuchonusa.com