An Interview With Julien Stefanizzi From Le Coupe Gorge In Paris

Perfect mix | © Le Coupe Gorge
Perfect mix | © Le Coupe Gorge
Photo of Henry Oliver
1 December 2016

A restaurant steeped in history, Le Coupe Gorge first opened its doors 111 years ago on Paris‘s rue de la Coutellerie. From its location to its traditional interior and culinary style, not much has changed in the century it’s been around for, but in 2013 it took on the talents of new head chef Julien Stefanizzi. Having made his name studying under a Michelin-starred chef and cooking for the elite in exclusive clubs and mansions, Stefanizzi is now making his mark in the kitchens of Le Coupe Gorge. We spoke to him to find out about the restaurant’s history, and the new culinary skills and techniques he’s introduced.

Where did the name Le Coupe Gorge originate?

This name means ‘cut throat’ which is a French expression to talk about a very dangerous place, where you shouldn’t stay too long otherwise you are likely to get mugged! This name is recent and probably related to the off-beat humour of its previous owners, and the fact that the restaurant is located on rue de la Coutellerie which was the cutlers street when Les Halles de Paris was the traditional central market of Paris.

Bar | © Le Coupe Gorge

The restaurant opened in 1895, are there any key Parisian traditions or techniques you’ve learned or maintained over the years? How does it feel to have taken over a restaurant with such a long history?

The restaurant does have a very long history, which is why I wanted to maintain the atmosphere with its old wooden floors, stone, red velvet banquettes and copper bar. But the most important thing was to highlight the French cuisine with the traditions and techniques that I learned at Apicius, with the Chef Jean-Pierre Vigato (two Michelin stars), and improved as a personal chef and caterer for large bourgeois houses.

Nougat | © Le Coupe Gorge

You came in as the new head chef in 2013, how have things changed since your arrival?

After the renovations, we kept the name but we began a new culinary style and developed a new image. As a passionate devotee of traditional French cuisine, I strongly believe and support the homemade food concept. It is important to offer my expertise in an old Parisian establishment. Moreover, we offer the restaurant’s space for special events such as photo shoots, exhibitions, viewings of artists and wine tasting evenings.

Dining Place | © Le Coupe Gorge

You’re known for your speciality, homemade nougat – what would you say makes the perfect piece of nougat and do you have a personal favorite variety?

Nougat has been my speciality for 10 years. I make a fresh piece every 2 or 3 days – that’s why it’s so flavorful and soft. To make the perfect piece, you need honey, 60% of roasted almonds, hazelnuts and fresh pistachios and a good professional mixer. Mine is R2D2 – my best friend for 10 years.

Confection | © Le Coupe Gorge

What kind of atmosphere do you try to install in the restaurant?

Far from being a tourist trap, Le Coupe Gorge tries to offer a traditional warm and friendly atmosphere.

Friendly Atmosphere | © Le Coupe Gorge

Sweet or savory?

Cooking sweet food is for me a true space of freedom and creativity. With savory food I feel more attached to tradition. That’s why on the menu there is the Chef’s Surprise: a made-to-measure dessert, where I tailor-make a pudding according to your cravings. Also, by reservation only, you can to create your own menu at Le Coupe Gorge. For example, if you want to try a soufflé with morels or a coq au vin, you can order it 2 or 3 days before your visit and enjoy it here with us.

Sweet & Savory together | © Le Coupe Gorge

Are your ingredients from fresh and sustainable sources?

All the ingredients are fresh but not all of them are from sustainable sources. We’re working on it. The restaurant has partnered with Alternoo; an online grocery store, delivering 100% organic and local fruit and vegetable baskets.

Perfect mix | © Le Coupe Gorge

What has been your proudest moment in the hospitality industry?

When I became took charge of Le Coupe Gorge, the Chef Jean-Pierre Vigato congratulated me and said; “Welcome to the restaurateur world.”

Le Coupe Gorge Experience | © Le Coupe Gorge

Do you have any interesting stories from the restaurant?

After spending one week in the most famous restaurants in Paris, an American client told us we’d regained the prestige of French gastronomy with the quality of our cuisine and service. Which was nice! Hopefully she wasn’t there when a rugby team privatized the dining room upstairs!

What does the future hold for Le Coupe Gorge?

We’re working hard to obtain the Maître-Restaurateur award. This title is the only one in France awarded by the state to promote expertise and commitment to work with fresh products.

Cards | © Le Coupe Gorge

Le Coupe Gorge is one of the winners of The Culture Trip’s Paris Local Favorite 2016 Award. The Local Favorite badge is awarded to our favorite local towns, restaurants, artists, galleries, and everything in between. We are passionate about showcasing popular local talents on a global scale, so we have cultivated a carefully selected, but growing community.