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Bras, The Tastes of Aubrac

Le Suquet, in Laguiole, France, is now into its third generation of Bras chefs.

First, there was la grandmère Bras (Angèle), who bought the place in 1956 to serve her refined country cooking. In 1968 her son Michel Bras moved in behind the stoves and swiftly rode a whirlwind of creativity and finesse to two Michelin stars. When his son Sébastien took over in 2009, the restaurant had three. Now it has none because, in 2017, Sébastien handed them all back, explaining — like so many other serious chefs had done before and since — that the stars were shackles on his creativity.

Bras, The Tastes of Aubrac is a beautiful testament to what he was talking about. The local Aubrac terroir has long been the star of each plate here (see Michel’s iconic gargouillou, with its 60-odd local vegetables, leaves, herbs, and flowers, often called the world’s best vegetarian dish). And while that sensibility persists under Sébastien, he brings a new international culinary experience to his dishes, notably Asian and Nordic (say, yuba, lily bulbs, myoga, fermented lentils, lacto-fermented radishes, or grilled veal spider steak, with roots and fermented barley). The book is a culinary family album, stunning throughout. But as a cookbook, this one is destined for your coffee table, not your kitchen.