At age 26 he opened his first restaurant – and a very innovative one! Ten years later, his 5 businesses are thriving and he has plans for yet another one that will offer a completely new dining experience. Young Chef Julien Duboué has let his businesses grow steadily, with help from family and friends. He was able to give life to countless new ideas, and today he wants to share his experience with future cooks – not to lecture them: to help them as he wishes he had been helped, and “give them the knowledge they need to open their own restaurants.” Of course, knowing how to cook is essential, but Julien Duboué wants to “show how to succeed in creating, and above all sustaining, one’s restaurant, without the support of investors who are often way too cautious.” Read all about this entrepreneurial adventure below, and follow it in a soon-to-come web series!
Growing up in Les Landes, in French Sud-Ouest (SouthWest), gave Chef Julien Duboué the taste of fine products. “With chickens, rabbits, quail, and fruit trees, in his parents’ garden, he got used to homegrown fare, and to the habit of trading produce for milk or asparagus for fruits, for instance, with neighbours.” He also shared in another local tradition: rugby – he even won the French Nationale 2 championship (top amateur league) with the Peyrehorade team in 1997 ! But he soon was to fall in love with another passion: cooking, when he enrolled in the Biarritz Lycée Hotelier (catering school).
After spending a few years in prestigious Parisian institutions such as Carré des Feuillants, George V…, he moved to the United States, where he worked alongside Michelin-starred French Chef Daniel Boulud. When Boulud offered him the opportunity to open a new restaurant in new York City, Julien Duboué knew he was ready to start his own business.
Top-quality food and a warm atmosphere
He had always had dreams about starting a restaurant, but “recognition by this renowned Chef was the starting point.”
Back in France, aged 26, he opened a place where meals could be shared just like at home. He took a financial gamble, did most of the alterations himself of with friends, and gave birth to Afaria (dinner or dinner’s ready in Basque), in the 15th arrondissement in Paris. The first table you met as you entered the place was a communal table where diners could wait to be seated while having a little something together. In 2007, this was indeed a very original idea!
Boosted by the success of his first business, in 2011 he opened Dans les Landes (In Les Landes) in the 5th arrondissement, taking the principle of the communal table one step further – since all the tables are “large communal tables, and there is a bar to meet and talk and enjoy hot tapas.” The atmosphere in definitely Sud-Ouest (French SouthWest) and the emphasis is on good food and fine cuisine.
As the place drew increasingly larger crowds, Chef Julien Duboué had to think bigger again…
This is when he created A Noste (Home in Landes Occitan) in the Paris financial district: “A place where everyone can eat as he / she likes: buying a good sandwich for a few Euros, sharing a tasty meal with friends in a festive atmosphere, or enjoying gourmet cuisine as in a high-end restaurant.” On the ground floor one finds taloa (Basque corn pancakes) to take away and affordable tapas, in that joyous Sud-Ouest ambiance, and upstairs is a fine signature restaurant.
No banker would support Julien Duboué in his third entrepreneurial venture, located in one of the least populated areas of Paris. He had to “sell the other two businesses to finance the new one, and give shares to his partners Mathieu Robillard, the executive Chef, and brothers Adrien and Morgan Inesta, in charge of the dining room.”
The 100-plus-seat downstairs area and terrace, and the 36-seat room upstairs, are always full!
All about gastronomy on the go
Across the street from Afaria, Julien Duboué has also opened A-Mia (To Go in Landes Occitan): a small take-away corner where a few of the restaurant’s dishes are offered at very reasonable prices (€13 for a full meal). This of course “allows good unsold or unused food to not go to waste, but it also offers quick and nutritionally balanced meals” to the many who go on to eat them at work or at home.
Born amid corn fields, the Chef has a keen interest in this cereal – even in how it is grown! With his long-time Basque supplier Jon Harlouchet, from Bussunarits, he even went to Mexico to bring back new varieties.
And he cooks it in every possible form: seeds, flour or polenta. Many innovative recipes have been invented and can be discovered in the Chef’s new “gourmet gastronomy, gluten-free takeaway joint”: Corn’R: maïsotto (cornsotto), corn bulgur cooked as a risotto, corn polenta croque-monsieur, etc.
And while Chef Julien Duboué is trying to change eating habits by developing corn culture and showcasing it in the kitchen, he is already thinking about taking his efforts even further and creating the eating place of the future…
Boulom, a living space – coming soon
Yet another idea appeared, inspired by the fact that Julien Duboué wanted two things: “to bake in a woodfire baker’s oven – and to revive the all-you-can-eat buffet !” Thus was born – due to open in 2018 – Boulom, la boulangerie où l’on mange (the eatery bakery), in the 18th arrondissement in Paris.
First and foremost it is a bakery / delicatessen.
It will offer 3 or 4 types of bread, created after the Chef and his teams have trained with MOF (Meilleur Ouvrier de France – Best Baker in France – the highest distinction for manual workers in France) Sylvain Herviaux. And baked from 25 ancient varieties of wheat, grown in Julien Duboué’s hometown.
The place will also sell pastries, or rather “cook’s desserts,” such as a dessert including all the ingredients from poire Belle-Hélène, or fruit tarts, flans, chocolate mousses and chic crèmes brulées.
The bread oven will be visible by shoppers and will also be used to bake quick street snacks such as pizza, flammekueches (the Alsatian pizza), pissaladières (the Nice pizza), etc.
The place will also feature a 100-seat dining room that will offer “smorgasbords of roast or barbecued or wok-cooked meats, and of course all sorts of oven-baked meat loaves in bread-crust!”
Besides the original format, Julien Duboué wants to provide “an original service, to make the customers feel at home.” There will be no waiting on tables – just a bread basket placed on each and computerized ordering, for the diners to feel free – just like home. A mobile application and tablets will be available for them to order what they like. There will be humans around, however, with a sommelier for wines and bartenders for tasty cocktails.
Plus a hidden, more intimate bar, with a playful atmosphere with cards and games.
In all, a genuine living place where one can buy fresh bread in the morning, eat a quick lunch, have a snack, eat a hearty dinner and enjoy lively nights!
Through this new adventure, Chef Julien Duboué wants to show the reality of a restaurateur’s work. A film crew will follow him and record every step of the project: from looking for a location to finding suppliers, from initial work to the opening of Boulom.
Short clips will be created and posted on social networks.
Young Chefs, would-be restaurateurs, food lovers, follow Julien Duboué’s next adventure on the web, and draw inspiration to create new eating places and please more and more diners!
- 1996: Apprenticeship at Michelin-2-star restaurant Relais de la Poste, in Magesq, Landes
- 2007: Opened Afaria
- 2011: Opened Dans les Landes
- 2012: Met his wife
- 2013: Opened A Noste
- 2016: Published «100% maïs, naturellement sans gluten » (100% Corn, Naturally Gluten-Free) Ducasse Edition
- 2018: Boulom due to open
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