In 2021, Michel and Sébastien Bras will be opening a new establishment, the Restaurant-Café the Halle aux Grains, in the Bourse de Commerce in Paris. The hallmark cuisine of the Bras family places the onus on lovingly grown, expertly prepared grain.
Father and son share a penchant for creativity and are drawn to places of outstanding architectural or artistic interest. Their light-filled restaurant Le Suquet, opened in the early nineties, makes a bold statement, playing on glass and stonework to pay homage to its surroundings. In Millau, Rodez and Karuizawa the signature Bras dishes are served in settings designed by the likes of Norman Foster, RCR Arquitectes, Pierre Soulages and Kengo Kuma.
François Pinault’s intentions for the Halle aux Grains and the Bourse de Commerce correspond to the Bras approach. «Tadao Ando’s sensitive restoration caresses the origins of the former corn exchange, where history meets contemporary art. It’s an inspiring building, rejuvenating. We’re grateful for this an opportunity to share our cuisine with a new clientele. We were on the look-out for a way to express ourselves in Paris. This is it,» marvels Michel Bras.
Architects Lucie Niney and Thibault Marca of NeM worked with designers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec to create the right backdrop for the Bras expertise in the restaurant on the third floor of the Bourse de Commerce.
To the inside of the building, tables offer views of the original murals of the five continents in a setting refreshingly brought to life by architect Tadao Ando. The outward view stretches over the church of Saint-Eustache, Les Halles, the Centre Pompidou to the Paris rooftops beyond.
Meaning is important to Michel and Sébastien Bras, and the noble past of the corn exchange, which dates from 1763, motivated their desire to evoke the same enchantment as that experienced by Arthur Young.
Naturally, grain, corn, pulses, oilseeds and cereal of all kinds form the bedrock of the cuisine served at the Halle aux Grains. «Germinated, grilled, puffed, infused or fermented, grain is the impetus for resolutely modern signature dishes, healthy and simple, that speak to body and soul», says Michel Bras.
Grain has always been the essence of the Bras family cuisine, whose ingenuity lies in making the most of the «little nothings», the humblest ingredients. The breadcrumbs in a stuffing become a highlight and milk skin is a dessert in its own right.
Open from midday to midnight every day the Restaurant-Café the Halle Aux Grains will have all the charm of a family-run establishment. Hospitality is the overriding priority. «We want people to be welcomed by genuine smiles that wrinkle the eyes, attentive service and a relaxed, chatty atmosphere», says Sébastien Bras.
The 100-cover Restaurant-Café has a separate entrance from the museum and is destined to become a favourite with locals and passing visitors alike.
From day-to-day necessity, cooking soon became the quintessence of life for Michel Bras, thanks to his love of food, his sense of observation and his boundless appetite for experimentation. For both Michel and Sébastien, the produce and landscapes of their native Aubrac are an inexhaustible source of inspiration.
In 1992 Michel opened Le Suquet, perched on a hill overlooking the village of Laguiole. Having grown up playing with pots and pans, Sébastien rapidly joined him and together they explore the avenues of minimalist, creative cuisine with great sincerity and modernity, with nature always a focal point.