Lutèce; courtesy of chef André Soltner (wearing toque).
The legendary New York City French restaurant Lutèce closed in 2004, but it will be reborn for one night only, on April 16, to benefit University Settlement. Alsace native André Soltner—now the dean of classic studies at the International Culinary Center—opened Lutèce in 1961, just as America’s obsession with food and cooking was beginning. “When we opened 50 years ago, there were restaurants that served canned or frozen food. We were very focused on the best ingredients you can get,” remembers the pioneering chef. During his 35 years behind the stove, Soltner’s celebrity and flawless classic French cuisine attracted New York’s glitterati and the country’s most respected food lovers, including Julia Child.
Soltner will bring back the spirit of Lutèce by orchestrating an extravagant French wine dinner of iconic dishes such as seafood en croûte and tournedos Rossini: filet mignon with foie gras and Madeira sauce. The cost for entry to this once-in-a-lifetime reboot (with dessert from Jacques Torres) starts at $3,000, which will aid the University Settlement’s many programs aimed at uplifting low-income families and immigrants through education, decent housing, and improving physical and emotional well being. Tickets here.
For those whose interest in the French classics is piqued, we asked Soltner to describe some of the incredibly complex dishes that wowed guests during his restaurant’s prime. “People nowadays think classic French cuisine was heavy, but when it was done the right way then it was not. It was very tasty,” he says. Click through the slideshow to see the Endangered French Classics.