Greg Marchand is peeling an orange. "Oh no. This is not sexy," he says. "Better if we use a nice little clementine, eh?"
On a visit from Paris, Marchand has stopped by Tasting Table HQ to make us a winter salad from his forthcoming book Frenchie: New Bistro Cooking ($23).
Marchand slowly washes and dries deep purple leaves of bitter radicchio, peels and slices the sweet clementines we found at the bodega downstairs, then spoons over olive oil, lemon juice, and very good balsamic vinegar (see the recipe). Watching him taste arugula before adding it to the mix, we start to understand why he's such a big deal in Paris: Marchand makes simple food with a lot of care.
He started cooking as a teenager in the orphanage where he grew up in Nantes, cobbling together his grandmother's traditional dishes for the other children on the weekends. But the chef earned his nickname, Frenchie, as the only Frenchman in Jamie Oliver's London kitchen, Fifteen.
Marchand opened his own place five years ago on a tiny cobblestoned street in the second arrondissement in Paris, and made a name for himself with bistro hits like sweetbreads and snails.
Today is not his first time cooking in New York. Marchand worked for Michael Anthony at Gramercy Tavern and tells us how he went to Katz's in his free time to eat pastrami on rye and pickles. That might explain why, in addition to gently tousled salads, he also serves enormous American-style sandwiches at Frenchie To Go, the shop he opened last summer that fills Rue du Nil each morning with the sweet, unexpected smells of pulled pork and pastrami.