Hidden Paris: Arnaud Nicolas

It doesn’t take many trips to Paris to realize that France is a meat-lover’s dream. 

But if you’re looking for something more adventurous than just steak frites, then one of the most famous French foods to try is foie gras, and arguably nobody does it better than Arnaud Nicolas

A Meilleur Ouvrier de France and now head of his own eponymous restaurant, Arnaud has elevated traditional pâté and terrines, which were once considered peasant food, to what he calls “Gastronomic Charcuterie.” This means serving up foie gras and pâté en croûte (pâté in a crust) in a thoroughly modern and stylish setting. In fact, his products are so good that Alain Ducasse himself is a fan. 

Arnaud Nicolas is one of the trendiest names on the Paris dining scene.

Photo Credit: Anne-Emmanuelle Thion, Text Overlay: Devour Paris Food Tours

So what’s a Meilleur Ouvrier de France?

The literal translation is Best Craftsperson of France, and it’s commonly abbreviated to M.O.F.

The Meilleur Ouvrier de France competition is held every three or four years to find the country’s best artisan in their field. The title is often associated with chefs: Joël Robuchon, Paul Bocuse and Michel Roux are just some of the culinary geniuses who have been given the title. However, the competition is open to applications from a variety of industries, from glassblowing to hairdressing. 

Those who wish to enter must first register and then complete a number of tasks over a two-year period, often including a master work in their respective field. Next, candidates who reach the required score are awarded the title, which they will hold for life. 

If you want to know how to spot a M.O.F. whilst you’re out and about eating in Paris, look at the chef’s shirt collar. Instead of the usual plain chef whites, a M.O.F. will have a striped blue, white, and red collar, which of course are the colors of France. The abbreviation M.O.F., or the words Meilleur Ouvrier de France, will often also be on the signage of a shop or restaurant, so if you see it, you know they’re cooking up something good!  

Parisian chef Arnaud Nicolas with one of his culinary creations.
Arnaud Nicolas is one of the select few Paris chefs to wear the tricolor M.O.F. collar. Photo credit: Jérémie Korenfeld

What’s on the menu?

Arnaud Nicolas earned the title of M.O.F. (at the age of just 24!) for his charcuterie. Unsurprisingly, the menu at his restaurant is very meat heavy. It changes every two weeks, but his famous poultry pie with foie gras will always be there, along with a selection of other specialities such as meat pies, terrines and duck foie gras. 

Duck foie gras at Arnaud Nicolas
The duck foie at Arnaud Nicolas is unlike anything you’ve ever tasted. Photo credit: Anne-Emmanuelle Thion

If you haven’t tried terrines and foie gras before, this really is the place to do it. The quality is exceptional, and Arnaud takes the utmost care with his ingredients. His team prepares everything fresh daily, and without the nitrites or preservatives commonly found in lower quality meats, ensuring it is always fresh and full of flavor. The kitchen is open, allowing guests a peek at Arnaud and his team at work, and sommelier Stephane Dufau is also on hand to pair each dish perfectly with a glass of French wine. 

Unlike other restaurants, Arnaud’s products are also available to take away from the in-house deli. They’re particularly popular with locals around Christmas time, who are looking for gourmet foie gras to serve at their Christmas Eve dinner.

The Arnaud Nicolas restaurant and shop in Paris
Don’t forget to pick up a gourmet souvenir from the onsite shop before you leave. Photo credit: Arnaud Nicolas

What if foie gras isn’t for me?

If pâté and foie gras aren’t your thing (and it’s true that they’re not for everyone), you can always opt for one of the restaurant’s classic meat dishes, such as pork filet or roast chicken. They also offer a cheese plate courtesy of the excellent Fromagerie Griffon, which is also worth stopping by before you leave Paris to pick up some French fromage

And despite his obvious love of meat, Arnaud’s talent doesn’t end there. He also plays around with fish terrines and non-French dishes such as ceviche and avocado. Although there’s only one veggie option, when it’s this good, one is all you need! If you’re traveling with children, there’s also the foie gras-free kids’ menu.

And don’t even try to resist dessert! From classics such as rum baba to their unique take on a Snickers bar, a night dining at Arnaud Nicolas is perfect from start to finish.

Lemon cake at Arnaud Nicolas in paris
The irresistible lemon cake. Photo credit: Anne-Emmanuelle Thion
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