As Gaston and Mimi are unlikely to be in a city that is home to a Joël Robuchon restaurant with enough cash in their bank account to splurge on a meal planned, if not actually cooked, by the many-starred Robuchon, they recently resorted to the pauper’s experience of the Gault Millau‘s Chef of the (Last) Century.

French chefs who make the three-star Michelin grade on French soil frequently expand and diversify. They open additional restaurants in Tokyo, New York, Las Vegas, and other well-heeled metropoles. They create specialty and ordinary food product lines for specialty and ordinary people, respectively. They publish cookbooks or star in reality T.V. shows on the Food Network. They capitalize, generally, on any means of branding and production in the food, cuisine, and cooking domaine.

Because, apparently, succeeding in the restaurant business is a precarious enterprise for even the best. Even in the country that reveres its top chefs and idolizes them more than movie stars.

So, in addition to opening a dozen restaurants in eight cities around the world, publishing multiple cookbooks, and managing the expectations that a total of 28 Michelin stars inspire, M. Robuchon teamed up with a producer of frozen foods to recreate T.V. dinner, French-style.

After a long day’s hike, Gaston and Mimi pulled two packages out of the frigo, threw them in the oven, and subsequently sampled confit de canard parmentier (butter-laden shepherd’s pie with duck) and pâtes à la basilique et poulet (pesto linguine with chicken). The food was pretty good, for frozen dinners. Certainly tastier than anything they’d find in the supermarket freezer section at home.

But, then, the French would require that.

And M. Robuchon does have a reputation to consider.

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