PARIS — The Eiffel Tower is upping its food game.
Not one but two chefs will succeed Alain Ducasse, who oversaw French gastronomy restaurant Jules Verne, located on the second level of the Eiffel Tower, until September 2018. The famed restaurant, located 410 feet above ground and offering a panoramic view of the city, has been closed to the public since.
Chef Frédéric Anton, who received three Michelin stars for his restaurant Le Pré Catelan in the 16th arrondissement, will take over the Jules Verne. The restaurant will be entirely redecorated by Lebanese architect Aline Asmar d’Amman, who was responsible for the decoration of the Crillon in 2013, and will open at the end of May, a couple of months after the monument’s 130th anniversary.
“Being part of France’s most famous monument is a unique experience in the life of a chef,” said Anton, speaking at a press conference at the Eiffel Tower on Tuesday. “Our ambition is clear: to turn the Jules Verne into an unmissable gastronomic destination in Paris, where clients come to discover the best of French cuisine. I aim for my creations to be a reflection of the culinary excellence associated with France.”
Thierry Marx has been chosen to oversee the Brasserie, the restaurant located on the first level of the tower, as well as the menus for the bistro and kiosks at different levels of the building, effective at the beginning of 2020.
It’s the first time a renowned chef is involved in running the Brasserie’s kitchen. Marx received two Michelin stars for his restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Paris and was part of the jury of the French edition of “MasterChef” from 2010 to 2014.
Both chefs will hold their respective positions for a duration of 10 years, as part of a contract operated between the Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel (SETE) and Umanis, a partnership between Anton, Marx, Sodexo and tech start-up Ubudu. Over 700 people are currently employed at the monument.
Built between 1887 and 1889, the Eiffel Tower welcomes 6 million visitors a year, 80 percent of whom are international.
“The Eiffel Tower is not only the symbol of Paris, it’s also the symbol of France,” said Bernard Gaudillère, president of the SETE.
“Everyone knows how important gastronomy is within the sectors of culture, history, economy and tourism in France,” he added. “By choosing these two great names, our message is a simple one: the Eiffel Tower will add excellence to the gastronomic reputation of France.”
Both restaurants will be completely redesigned to make the most of their unique setting.
The Jules Verne, where French President Emmanuel Macron had dinner with President Donald Trump on the occasion of his first visit to France in July 2017, is currently under renovation.
“Frédéric Anton and I worked closely together to create a fusion between decorative arts and gastronomy,” said Asmar d’Amman, who added how honored she was that a woman had been chosen to redecorate such an integral part of “La Dame de Fer” (“The Iron Lady”).
The decorator, who created her architecture studio Culture in Architecture in 2011 and collaborated with Karl Lagerfeld on a series of sculptures unveiled at Carpenters Workshop Gallery in October, unveiled the duo’s plans for the revamped Jules Verne, complete with a new Art Deco logo and graphic identity by artist Pascal Dangin. In dominant tones of gray, the decor will celebrate French savoir-faire with hints of gold leaf, textured “gaufrage” fabrics created to resemble the slate roofs of Parisian buildings and worked metal panels in reference to the tower’s architecture.
Two additional spaces will be added to the three existing salons, offering views of the tower’s mechanisms, and mirrors will be dotted around the walls, allowing each and every diner to enjoy the panorama. Furniture will be covered in velvet, a nod to Gustave Eiffel’s personal apartment at the top of the tower.
The restaurant will add an earlier service to its dining hours, opening its doors at 6 p.m., as well as a breakfast service starting at 7.30 a.m. to enjoy morning views over Paris. The lunchtime menu is priced at 105 euros, while the dinner menu comes in either five dishes for 190 euros or seven for 230 euros.
The Brasserie, which is yet to be closed for renovation, will also get a bit of a facelift: architects Ramy Fischler and Nicola Delon plan to move the kitchen to the lower level of the restaurant, allowing for a 360-degree view all around the monument.
“There will be a stage at the center of the upper room, so that the tables that are not seated near the windows still get to be part of the experience,” explained Fischer. “We didn’t want anybody to feel frustrated.”
The first level of the Brasserie will feature a breakfast area, which will turn into a tapas bar once night falls, while the staff will be kitted out in custom-made outfits by designer Christine Phung.
The set menu is priced at 30 euros and will consist of French brasserie classics such as roast chicken with mushrooms, artisanal terrines, tarte tatin and French toast.
Also revealed at the conference was the creation of the Eiffel Tower’s Artisan Guild: A jury of experts, presided over by Marx, will select its future collaborators from a roster of local artisans and producers, either in Paris or located in the Île-de-France region.
“We wanted to see what the grounds around the Eiffel Tower could bring to the table,” said Marx. “We visited 350 acres of organic and responsible farms. The Brasserie will build its strength from their produce, and in return shine the spotlight on these local artisans.”
Each artisan will be part of the guild for a year, and will see its produce be used in the Brasserie’s menu as well as the takeaway stands and kiosks at the foot of the tower, which sell over 300,000 meals a year.
“I was born in Ménilmontant [a former working-class area in the northeast of Paris] and growing up, I only ever saw the Eiffel Tower as a tiny figure,” said Marx. “The first time I stood at its foot, I was so impressed. I wanted to pour my entire Parisian soul into this project, as well as all the diversity of the area I come from.”