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On Location Paris: Etheliya Hananova

Along with her husband, chef Noam Gedalof, Canadian sommelier Etheliya Hananova runs and owns the Michelin-starred restaurant Comice in Paris, France. We chatted with her about what to do around town, the local cuisine and what she misses about home. 


Work aside, what is it about Paris that made you want to call it home?

Everywhere you look there’s so much culture, history and beauty, it makes you in awe on a daily basis. Even when I go to run mundane errands, I have to cross over the bridge with a gorgeous, slightly distant view of the Eiffel Tower, and it takes my breath away.


Where do you take visitors from abroad—like from Canada—for their first local dinner? And their first lunch?

For dinner, Le Rigmarole. It’s an amazing, sort-of- yakitori-but-not-traditional place with light, beautiful cuisine, a great wine list, pleasant service and a very fun, relaxed vibe, run by Jessica Yang and Robert Compagnon, a super-talented chef couple. For lunch, Mokonuts, a deceptively casual spot with excellent pure product-driven cuisine and incredible baked goods for dessert, run by another talented couple, Moko Hirayama and Omar Koreitem.


Where do you go out for morning coffee—and what’s special about it?

La Caravane, down the street from our apartment and restaurant. It’s a 1911 heritage-protected Parisian café that got taken over by Franck Audoux (ex-le Châteaubriand) a couple of months ago.


What about drinks?

La Caravane is a cocktail bar in the afternoon, and Franck makes perfect cocktails. They’re balanced, not overthought, and unfortunately extremely drinkable. Later at night, we go to Les Grands Verres at the Palais de Tokyo.


Where do you like to go for a walk, or just quiet contemplation?

The Jardin du Luxembourg. It’s so beautiful there, even if it’s busy on nice days. For some quiet, the Bois de Vincennes or Bois de Boulogne. It’s hard to get a nature fix in Paris, so those are really the best options. If I can get motivated, I also like taking the train out to the forest of Fontainebleau, but it’s a trek.


What do you think the chefs and restaurants of Paris collectively do best?

Creating little gem-like spots that have their own distinct character and become pillars of their neighbourhoods. Even though Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world, Parisians go out so much, have such strong opinions about food and drink, and they really support their neighbourhood spots, whether it’s a little off-the-beaten-track wine bar or a restaurant like ours.


What is your favourite local food market?

The Marché Gros-la-Fontaine. It’s a true local market in a very charming spot in the 16th. Also the organic market at Batignolles.


What part of the culinary experience in Canada do you miss most in your adopted home?

I miss the wine scene in Montreal. I just feel that there is nothing like it—a combination of democratic tasting, open minds, endless curiosity and a very community-driven vibe. I really miss that feeling of gathering with fellow professionals and connecting in a social/professional fashion.


Is there any Canadian ingredient or product that you miss cooking or eating?

Colville Bay oysters. Beef tartare and fries with salad from Lawrence in Montreal. Kem CoBa soft-serve ice cream.


What dish of regional France do you think encapsulates the strengths and virtues of the local cuisine?

It’s hard to pick a favourite dish; I guess the tradition of charcuterie? It’s an elevated art form here, deceptively simple but actually deeply complex and hard to get right. Plus it’s not rarefied: people from many walks of life and regions have versions that they grew up with, and it becomes a part of their culinary identity. We work with people like Patrick Duler in the south, and the Vincensini family in Corsica—they are organic producers committed to careful breeding and have a very personal and almost religious approach to affinage (aging).


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