In the onyx and marble den of Chef's Club: French techniques with a Japanese flourish from Sota Atsumi of highly acclaimed Paris bistro Clown Bar. Take for example the duck pithiviers: a puff pastry enveloping minced duck and foie gras, dragged through a dollops of yuzu and dates, an ingeniously comforting combination, streaks of sun and sugar. No skimping here, the flour plays second to the meat. In its oft-photographed cross-section, the buttery globe resembles a swollen burger, a high-class gut-bomb, if we're going by fat-content. And yet, every bite is delicate to the tongue. Atsumi's Franco-Japanese cuisine evinces his high-gastronomy training combined with his simple "home-style cooking" (his words)
I came up short pondering a Japanese filmmaker working in the French tradition, so instead I present a French auteur at his finest dabbling in Japanese themes, which now that I think of it is still an apt pairing. Jean Pierre Melville, progenitor of the French New Wave, exercises a thrilling economy in Le Samourai, his noir about a killer-for-hire (Alain Delon, fixture of suave) who lives by the code of the Samurai... in 1970s slab grey Paris. It's a film that's minimalist (barren sets, icy neutrals, wordless action sequences) in a way that yields maximum pleasure, not dissimilar to Atsumi's cooking, simultaneously refined yet stripped back.
For the last week of his residency, Atsumi's dishes were combined with those of a Brooklyn icon, Carlo Mirarchi of Roberta's/Blanca. To this end, a double feature with Ghost Dog, its spiritual compatriot. Forrest Whittaker stars as a mob hitman in Staten Island wielding an admirable sense of duty with scrappy nonchalaxtnce in this iteration of out-of-place hitman, marked by director Jim Jarmusch's signature drollness. Japan via France x New York.