IHe hadn’t imagined hanging up so suddenly. He who intended to stop at the end of 2023 will finally put his apron on this Thursday noon June 30, as revealed by the JDD. Yves Camdeborde is about to deliver his last service at the Comptoir du Relais table in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. After 18 years in the 6e district of Paris, the tutelary figure of bistronomy (contraction of bistro and gastronomy invented in 2004 by the critic Sébastien Demorand) will sign “at 3 p.m. sharp” the final sale of his restaurant along with that of his hotel in the Relais-Saint- Germain (22 keys) – however, he retains his three Avants-Comptoir still at Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
“In the process, I take inventory, I give the keys to the new owner and I go for a while to my house in Vaucluse in Puget-sur-Durance”, smiles the leaping Béarnais born in Pau who does not know not what turn he will give to his future. The two establishments were bought by Jean-Paul Besnard who decided to entrust the management of the Comptoir du Relais to Bruno Doucet, another cantor of bistronomy. The latter, faithful accomplice and close friend of Yves Camdeborde, had already taken over his legendary Régalade in 2004 in the 14e borough.
Good, raw and shiny
With the departure of “Camde” – as it is nicknamed in the community – an era is turning at the crossroads of the Odéon. That of the forerunner of uninhibited scoundrel cuisine stripped of its pompous artifices. “With Olivier Roellinger, Yves is the person who has most revolutionized cuisine in France over the past thirty years. He is at the origin of the synthesis between the great tradition of Auguste Escoffier and new cuisine”, deciphers the novelist and journalist Sébastien Lapaque, a close friend of the cook.
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Yves Camdeborde was therefore the thinking head of a joyous din celebrating the bistro atmosphere in favor of the golds of the big houses and had understood the recipe for success well before anyone else: good, raw and brilliant simmered with love and for not too expensive. “At home, no diktat, no codification, no tasting advice requiring you to start here and end there, no refusal of well-cooked meat or a change of garnish”, he kept hammering top of his inimitable accent.
And as essential ingredients to stir up the mayonnaise, conviviality and sharing. “I espoused the vocation of innkeeper to nourish myself with people. To be a restaurant owner is to love receiving others. Camaraderie above all, as Sébastien Lapaque testifies. “One evening after a dinner where we were in great shape, I said with a laugh to the taxi that was bringing us back: Direction the port of Cancale. We woke up at 5 am to the sea in Brittany. No time to procrastinate, we had to quickly return to Paris since Yves had a service at noon. »
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A spirit and an atmosphere, that’s what the guests came for at the Comptoir du Relais, which is open 7 days a week from 12 noon to 11 p.m. and can sometimes serve up to 1,000 covers per weekend. “We go there because we want to meet people, to exchange ideas, to discuss, to sing, to be happy, to bicker… We talk to each other with our hands and our eyes. We naturally call each other by our first names. We have forged an extraordinary relationship. There is an amazing complicity, a mixture of happy laughter, funny anger and endless complainers. We like to be neck and neck with tables stuck together like sardines in a tin,” enthuses Yves Camdeborde.
A France à la Audiard
A France à la Audiard, that of cult replicas of uncle gunslingers, counter briefs where one would dream of meeting Jean Gabin, Lino Ventura, Bernard Blier. Real and authentic that the whole world envies France. Leaving the big starred houses to inaugurate La Régalade, next to the Porte d’Orléans in 1992, the troublemaker had already upset the market by presenting post-Gulf War an unbeatable menu at 100 francs including aperitif, starter, main course , cheeses, dessert, digestive. This musketeer of hospitality had put customers back at the center of the game with a kitchen on the same level and close to the room in order to be able to go out quickly to greet them.
This is what Yves Camdeborde will do one last time this Thursday lunchtime between his regulars, the curious and the tourists who will savor his specialties. Octopus, Breton half-lobster, turbot steak, beef tartare, veal chop or even melon soup are notably on the program of his farewell menu.
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