The new head of Dior has aspirations

PARIS — Talk about a new look. The head office and the Christian Dior boutique at 30 avenue Montaigne have undergone a complete makeove...

PARIS — Talk about a new look.

The head office and the Christian Dior boutique at 30 avenue Montaigne have undergone a complete makeover, expanding with interior gardens, works of art, a gallery which will permanently host the Dior retrospective which travels the world , a pastry shop and a restaurant, called Monsieur Dior. There, patrons can dine on fine Dior china and sip Dior crystal.

Dior has hired Jean Imbert, the popular veteran of the French version of “Top Chef”, who runs two other restaurants on Avenue Montaigne. Last year, Mr. Imbert, 40, took over the kitchens of the two restaurants at the Plaza Athénée hotel, opposite Dior, from starred restaurateur Alain Ducasse. Mr. Imbert’s reboots of these dining rooms have attracted a lot of attention.

“I never wanted to run a fashion restaurant,” Mr. Imbert said of the Dior restaurant, designed, like the entire complex, by New York architect Peter Marino. It’s a project that Mr. Imbert has been working on quietly since 2019, even studying the Dior archives to understand the sensibility of the brand’s founder.

“Monsieur Dior loved real French cuisine,” said Mr. Imbert. “Dishes like roast chicken stuffed with herbs and fromage blanc, endive salad and poached eggs with artichoke hearts. The menu is therefore inspired by his favorites.

Mr. Dior himself has also seen a powerful convergence between fashion and food. “The ingredients used in the kitchen are as noble as those we use in haute couture,” he once said to a friend, chef Raymond Thuillier. “What I love about my job is that you have to unite your mind and your hands. Nothing can be perfected if the creativity of your imagination is not expressed through your hands.

Many in the Parisian restaurant world were surprised when it was announced last May that he would take over from Mr. Ducasse. There had been rumors that Francois Delahaye, the general manager of the Plaza Athénée, was considering various chefs as successors to Mr. Ducasse, but Mr. Imbert’s appointment came as a surprise.

“It was time for a change,” Mr. Delahaye said. “So I decided to go for a really big change.”

Mr. Imbert, who won season 3 of “Top Chef France”, opened L’Acajou, his first restaurant, in Paris when he was only 21 years old. The showbiz clientele he later attracted flocked to ToShare, the Saint-Tropez ode to street food he’s filming with Pharrell Williams.

More recently, his restaurant Mamie (“granny” in English, now closed) honored the cuisine of Nicole Imbert, his late grandmother, whom he adored. He also runs the restaurant at the Le Cheval Blanc hotel in Saint Barthélemy, which, like Dior, is owned by LVMH.

Some in the French cooking world were skeptical of the media chef, including food writer and TV host François-Régis Gaudry, who wrote in L’Express: “He doesn’t have the CV nor the experience needed for such work. . I’m not saying he’s not talented, but there are 100 other chefs who are more experienced and work harder.

And while others were more positive, Mr. Imbert replied to his critics on Instagram: “Maybe we could wait to see my project and give me a chance, right?”

Mr. Imbert has enjoyed cooking since he grew up in the Parisian suburb of L’Haÿ-les-Roses, where his parents own a printing and bookbinding business. After high school, he was one of the youngest students to enroll at the prestigious Paul Bocuse Institute in Lyon, at the age of 17. He then completed internships with famous French chefs, including Marc Meneau and Michel Rostang, before opening his first restaurant in 2004.

The comfort food that Mr. Imbert presented at the Relais Plaza at the Hôtel Plaza Athénée received polite praise, but his haute cuisine at Jean Imbert at the Plaza Athénée won praise, including a review full of superlatives from Emmanuel Rubin in Le Figaro. Here he presents traditional French dishes like Bellevue lobster and Orloff veal in the grand style of famous chefs like François Vatel and Auguste Escoffier.

He also pays special attention to other details. “I loved working on table settings in my new restaurants,” he said, adding, “I love working on all parts of a restaurant.”

The new Dior restaurant is located just opposite L’Avenue, the brasserie that has long been the canteen of international fashion. LVMH’s executive suite has also provided a steady stream of diners, but their lunch (and dinner) plans look set to change.

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Newsrust - US Top News: The new head of Dior has aspirations
The new head of Dior has aspirations
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