Why One Chef Smuggled a Crouton Out of Paris

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When Rick Tramonto visited Saint-Germain, Joël Robuchon’s three-Michelin-starred Paris restaurant in 1981, he had croutons so brilliant that he was inspired to keep one as a memento.

Croutons can be sublime—especially if you make them at home using Nancy Silverton’s foolproof method. When Rick Tramonto visited Saint-Germain, Joël Robuchon’s three-Michelin-starred Paris restaurant in 1981, he had croutons so brilliant that he was inspired to keep one as a memento.

“The third course comes, this salad,” Tramonto remembers. “And there they were: the Robuchon croutons. Perfect mini croutons. I took one.” He smuggled it out of the restaurant in an empty black film canister. “I came home and I varnished it,” he says. “I still have it in my home office, in a little glass case. In this room I have about 2,000 cookbooks, and one wall with all my badges and Beard awards. But people always go up to this one corner and say, ‘What’s that little speck?’ That’s the Robuchon crouton.”

Related: 5 Flavor-Blasted Crouton Recipes
5 Ways to Use Croutons (Other Than in Salads)
7 Salads to Upgrade with Perfect Croutons

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