Revealed by the cooking show Top Chef broadcast on M6 in 2012, Jean Imbert has been cooking since he was 18 years old, and never ceases to amaze our taste buds. Let’s take a look back at Jean Imbert’s many illustrious collaborations and projects, from the opening of his first restaurant in the 16th arrondissement of Paris to his recent appointment as head of the Plaza Athénée.
Building on his popularity in France and across the Atlantic, the French chef has been named Chef of the Year in 2019 by GQ magazine. This is the result of many long years spent in the kitchen, honing and perfecting his love for it.
At the age of 18, in 1999, he entered into the Institut Bocuse, a hotel school specialising in gastronomic restaurants and the culinary arts. Five years later, he opened his first restaurant in the 16th arrondissement: L’Acajou. It was from this point on that Jean Imbert began his long and exciting career in gastronomic cuisine. Moreover, it is also thanks to this restaurant that his career on the other side of the Atlantic began.
L’Acajou was the restaurant of choice for celebrities, especially Americans, when they came to Paris. The list of world stars who have frequented Jean Imbert’s restaurant is quite long. Robert De Niro, Johnny Hallyday, Kristen Stewart, Justin Timberlake, Al Pacino, but also Madonna, Jennifer Lawrence or even his friend Pharell Williams have all tasted his dishes.
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Several years later, he found himself cooking backstage at the Stade de France for the Beyoncé and Jay-z concert in 2018.
2018 continues to be the year of all the madness for Chef Imbert. Taking advantage of his success, it is far from the French capital, in New York and Miami, in the United States, that the French chef has decided to put down his bags. Although his New York restaurant Encore was forced to close after only a month, it remains a memorable restaurant in the chef’s career, being his second outside the Old Continent.
The chef’s first move to the United States was the opening of Swan and Bar Bevy, located in Miami. Opened in November of that year, it was a collaboration with singer and friend Pharell Williams and photographer David Grutman. With its Art Deco style and horseshoe shape, you can enjoy cuisine from all over the world. From spaghetti with caviar to smoked beetroot carpaccio and riccota tomato, cucumber and burrata soup served with fresh figs, the restaurant’s rich menu – still in operation – is sure to delight many.
However, soon after, a page was turned in Jean Imbert’s career. One year later, in 2019, after 11 years of opening, L’Acajou has closed its doors. However, if one could believe in a definitive closure, it was only to reopen a second restaurant at the same address, called Mamie.
From its rather explicit name, we understand that this restaurant will be run by Jean Imbert himself, accompanied by his grandmother, Nicole. On the occasion of its opening in February 2019, he made the announcement on Instagram, saying these few words: “I’m opening a restaurant with my grandmother in 4 weeks. […] It’s an obvious, childhood dream, to start from scratch and open a restaurant with Grandma! She’s the reason I’ve always wanted to do this job and it’s the meaning I want to give to my life, which supposedly takes place between the stars and the US, but which has no flavour without my roots” .
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The menu of this restaurant was concocted with his 92-year-old grandmother. From pumpkin soup to roasted salsify, not to mention snow eggs and clafoutis, this menu never ceased to delight the taste buds of her customers. Despite her death at the beginning of 2021, her cuisine has continued to delight those who are curious about the famous “grandmother’s cuisine” .
As the year 2020 passes, Jean Imbert returns to a new and umpteenth project. Always accompanied by his faithful friend Pharell Williams, he will open the ToShare restaurant in June 2020, located in Saint-Tropez, in the south of France. The dishes range from €12 to €47 and include a romaine salad to be dipped in “a secret sauce”, an avocado-shaped trompe-l’oeil and “shabu shabu”, a dish made with sea bass and artichoke. Ice cream, “cookie à la cuillère” and fresh strawberries complete the sweet menu. A second ToShare restaurant will also open, this time in Ibiza, Spain, in the summer of 2021. Located on the secret paradise cove Cala Molì, it will serve Iberian specialities.
Jean Imbert has not stopped there. More recently, at the end of 2020 and during 2021, he has begun several collaborations with the luxury house of Dior. After the New Year’s Eve 2021 menu imagined by Jean Imbert, Cédric Grolet, and Dior, as well as the Valentine’s Day menu imagined by Mamie and Jean x Dior, both were deliverable at home, this time it’s a high-end Dior restaurant that is opening. Located on Avenue Montaigne in Paris, in the heart of the Golden Triangle, Jean Imbert will be the chef. The restaurant will reflect the history of the house, from its foundation to the present day, and will be transposed to the plate. On the menu: a mixture of futurism and cultural heritage.
Finally, the last collaboration to date for Jean Imbert was the subject of rumours before being confirmed. After the departure of multi-starred chef Alain Ducasse from the Plaza Athénée, Jean Imbert will succeed him at the head of the kitchens of the palace, also located on Avenue Montaigne. He will be in charge of the hotel’s six restaurants, namely the Table Gastronomique, the Cour Jardin, the Galerie, the Relais Plaza, the Montaigne terrace and the Bar.
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It is certain that Jean Imbert’s adventure at the Plaza Athénée will not be the last, and we are already looking forward to discovering which one will be added to the long list of the chef’s collaborations and projects.
Featured photos : © Boby
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