|Nicely landscaped area in front of the former site of|
the Bermuda Onion, in Beaugrenelle mall
Our expectations were not high; in the past, the food we were served there was merely good or correct. Last year, however, all five of us were delighted with the food and service. You can see what I wrote about the experience in this blog entry for July 7, 2017.
Yesterday evening, Tom and I were warm and hungry after our walk on the Ile aux Cygnes, so we entered the mall and headed for the Bermuda Onion. After climbing the escalator, we realized that the restaurant and several other businesses in that part of the mall were closed.
I asked a security guard about the Bermuda Onion, and he answered that it was gone.
We left the mall and decided to dine a L'Epopée, a former favorite restaurant. I say "former favorite" because the food last night was mediocre, and the reception by the owner was strange. The only very nice thing about the dinner was the service.
On the way home, we speculated about what had happened to the Bermuda Onion. With its fabulous location, wonderful view of the Seine, interesting menu, and great food at good value, how could it have failed?
I said to Tom that I bet I could find out what happened. In my research this morning, I almost completely solved the mystery.
The restaurant opened when the mall was new, in 2013. It was a re-creation of some Parisian bistros of the same name that existed from 1985 to 2004. Those earlier Bermuda Onions were the creation of Patrick Derderian.
The newer Bermuda Onion had a sleek blue, gray, silver and bronze decor that mimicked that of a cruise ship from another era. It was cool.
The first chef at that new Bermuda Onion was Valentin Néraudeau, a young man from Toulouse. He was, earlier that same year, a contestant on the Franco-Belgian edition of the show Top Chef.
Somehow, it became known that Valentin has a spectacular body, rippled with muscles. It may have become known on one of the episodes from Top Chef. The other team (not Valentin's) had one test in which they cooked for four famous swimmers, including France's Laure Manaudou. That team of chefs had to swim several laps before cooking. It is possible that the other team was also at the pool, in swimming attire, and that's when people saw Valentin's bod.
At any rate, he became famous for his physique, even though he was dropped from Top Chef at the end of season 4.
The next year, 2014, he came out of the closet. He is a gay man; he said that the world of restaurant cuisine is very macho, so therefore he'd been slow to come out.
He left the Bermuda Onion job in 2014 or 2015. That's when Diogo Patricio was promoted to chef there. Valentin went back to Toulouse, where he is now a chef de cuisine for hire. He also has a cooking show series on YouTube, specializing in teaching how to make really good dishes in four minutes. It is called simply "Chef Valentin," and there is a new episode every Thursday at 7pm, France time. The show has more than 10,000 subscribers.
|A mediocre but attractive duck breast main course at L'Epopee|
Very recently (July 9), the Beaugrenelle management announced that Galeries Lafayette will be opening a department store at the mall. That big store is replacing Marks and Spencer and many other businesses in that side of the mall. So the Bermuda Onion is just one of several entities whose leases were not renewed to make way for the big department store.
I do not know where Chef Diogo Patricio is going. According to LinkedIn, he lives in Paris and is from Portugal. I don't know exactly when Bermuda Onion closed its doors. It could have been as recently as early this month, when the Galeries Lafayette announcement was made.
Perhaps Diogo, like many Parisians who come from Portugal, will just take a long July-August vacation in his home country, taking some time to think about what to do next. After that, we certainly hope he returns to Paris to be a chef again. We enjoyed his cooking so much last summer . . . . We wish him the best.