Curly kale was on the big stage last week. And that stage was Paris’ Omnivore Food Festival. The Queen of Greens was front and center on the third floor in the marché section.
I’m not connected enough in the foodie world to have been invited to Omnivore but happened upon a ticket for the third and final day. I was able to see a few interesting things…
The chef, Danny Bowien from the popular San Francisco and New York City restaurant, Mission Chinese did a cooking demonstration. Word on the street is that a Paris spot is next on the list. Read this great article about Danny and the restaurant and how they’re taking Chinese cooking to a different but still down-to-earth level. Although I must say that I feel like Paris already has their own Danny Bowien with Emperor Norton.
I also listened to Joël Thiebault talk about bringing back lost vegetables and how he encourages chefs to use them. He filled a table with his famous multi-colored carrots, beets and the uglier but so amazing sunchokes and parsnips. While I was only able to comprehend about 50% of the conversation, it was very exciting to see Joël dressed up in his Sunday best for the discussion. And yes, he is still such a rockstar.
Then came the exciting part. Thanks to Paris Breakfast, I was given the tip that there was a kale spotting at the festival. I ventured up to the Le Marché section and walked around. Through the various stands of sprouts, caviar, different types of seaweeds marinated in champagne and sherry, stood a lovely woman standing behind her “curly kale.”
Michèle François who started the “Legumes Project” and is part of the husband-wife farming team in Saint Pol de Léon in Brittany smiled when I introduced myself.
Luckily thanks to Paris Breakfast and a few others, she had already heard of The Kale Project. A sigh of relief… it’s always easier when I don’t get the normal quizzical look when I explain the Project.
We had a great conversation and she was so patient with my French. After a trip to the UK in 2012, Michèle and her husband saw curly kale, were intrigued, did their homework and learned how healthy it is for you. So for the first time in 2012, they began to grow it and eventually sell to a lot of the Paris market distributors. It, as many of you know, sold out. She asked a few questions about the Project, what the idea actually is and then understood completely. Along with the curly kale, they are growing varieties of lost vegetables similar to what you can find at Joël’s stand. Michèle said to me,
Once I heard about you, I knew I had to write you because I have the Légumes Project and you have The Kale Project. It only makes sense that we should meet!
Unfortunately for us, their kale growing season has come to an end and they will not have product again until September. Michèle did invite me out to their farm which I hope to do soon. I would love to meet her husband and try to convince him to start growing some kale sooner.
I still am so excited that “curly kale” was a featured item at the Omnivore festival!