In the 16th Arrondissement

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Chef greets us at the door to La Pergolese in the tony 16th Arrondissement of Paris, blocking our way in with his burly frame, his white shirt unbuttoned halfway down his chest, reading glasses perched on this head. He’s grumpy and not in a welcoming mood. He’s tired, he’s too old for this, he has to eat, he said seven o'clock and it’s only six forty now.

“Who are you people? Anyway, how can you take good pictures with that lousy piece of equipment?” He’s pointing to my crotch, but referring to the camera that hangs off my shoulder.

Our friend and translator Rebekah comes to our defence. “They are famous authors with an award-winning book about French cuisine and he,” meaning me, “is a photographer for Canadian television.” Getting one out of three assertions correct is close enough for this situation.

Chef huffs off and we retire to a nearby bar to drink champagne and pression and plot our next move.

Thirty minutes later Chef Stéphane Gaborieau is all welcoming and apologetic for his previous temper. I tell him “pas de probleme” as I think about what a great story this will make for our book.

As we get to know him we find Chef to be passionate, expressive, bombastic, and also a seasoned bullshitter…

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