AWARDED THE MEILLEUR Ouvrier de France in 1976, the Chef de l’année in 1987 and Cuisinier du siècle in 1990, Joël Robuchon is the most starred chef in the world. Many Manhattanites will remember the previous Midtown iteration of Robuchon’s tasting menu outpost, L’Atelier, which closed in 2012. For the next-gen reinvention of L’Atelier, the celebrated chef snatched up the former Colicchio & Sons space in the Meatpacking District on 10th Avenue, between 15th and 16th streets—a starworthy location, indeed. “I love the energy and diversity of the Meatpacking District, and the neighborhood reminds me of the original Paris location,” Robuchon says.
The new downtown project is reflective of Robuchon’s evolution both professionally and personally. The top toque is noticeably slimmer these days, having lost a vast amount of weight for health reasons. His new interest in health informs a more modern menu. The vegetarian tasting menu is a favorite, the chef notes.
Seeking to invite diners to a more intimate setting, Robuchon enlisted renowned French architect Pierre-Yves Rochon (the man behind the stunning Four Seasons Georges V in Paris and The Savoy Hotel in London) to design a space befitting of his expertise in which to luxuriously present his chefs and cuisine. A color palette of mainly black and red fits the neighborhood, while the open-kitchen plan allows diners to watch the high theatrics of haute cuisine unfold. Many of the key players remain the same: Executive chef Christophe Bellanca, pastry chef Salvatore Martone and head baker Tetsuya Yamaguchi have all been with Robuchon for many years.