After two years in New York, the talented 30-year-old chef, David Toutain returned to Paris, France and quietly opened L’Agape Substance in the summer of 2011. The unique 26-seat, open kitchen restaurant with a communal dining table and mirrors on the ceiling is as original as Toutain’s cooking.
David’s impressive 15-year career spent honing his skills at some of the most elite restaurants around the world (L’Arpege, Marc Veyrat, Mugaritz, Pierre Gagnaire, and Corton) has helped him execute a beautifully orchestrated 16 plus course tasting menu at L’Agape, showcasing the finest in fresh, seasonal ingredients. His love for vegetables, mountain plants, wild herbs and roots are also very much present on his plates. A fresh Saint Jacque scallop served in the shell, covered in frozen watercress powder, and finished with a cold lemongrass-ginger clam consommé awakens the palette. A perfectly poached hen egg drizzled with cumin-caramel sits on a creamy and luxurious sweet corn. Sea urchin paired with coffee — unusual and delicious. Toutain introduces you to the most adventurous and inventive dining experience of your life.
What time do you start your day?
I get up at 6am.
How many hours do you put in a day at work?
What is your first childhood food memory?
Ground beef, peas and pasta made by my stepfather, Fredo…so good.
What is your favorite smell?
Tell us about your experience as a chef de cuisine at Corton in New York?
It was a good change to see the different culture of cooking in New York versus Europe. It was always a dream of mine to work in New York and I’m happy I got the chance to be a part of that team.
Favorite place to eat in New York and San Francisco?
NY : Roberta’s, Blue Hill Farm. SF : Manresa, Coi.
What brought you back to Paris?
I wanted to open a restaurant, have balance for my life and my family and start a new life with my wife and son.
Who are the chefs that inspire you?
Marc Veyrat, Alain Passard and Andoni Luis Aduriz.
Who are your purveyors? Do you go to the market to choose your ingredients?
Joel Thiebault, I go two times a week to the market — it’s very important for me so I can breath, speak to people and see products. My other important purveyors are Annie Bertin, Terroir d’Avenir and Rouillon for the meat.
Are you organized?
Yes, I am very organized — at work and at home. I always have a notebook with me.
What is inside your refrigerator at home?
Mango juice, yogurt for my son, and veggies, veggies and more veggies.
What are your 3 favorite ingredients?
Different vegetables depending on the season, salted butter, and citrus.
What is changing in French cuisine?
The chefs are younger and less crazy with different ideas about cooking. They want to focus on the best products and food, and a more intimate, relaxed and casual experience.
What’s for Sunday dinner?
Something really simple…my wife usually cooks pho, or we have a nice steak with garlic hericot verts.
What keeps your life balanced?
My son and wife.
01. Thai Toutain