It’s no secret that minimalism has taken over the country – books and blogs that detail pairing down everything from material possessions to the space you inhabit have taken popular culture by storm. People are taking only what they need to survive and finding happiness in the mindfulness of the moment. Like everything that has ever been cool, ever, the minimalism movement began in Europe. Now, the Euro-invasion of a minimized palette – fashion-food, will finally make its grand appearance in America, starting in our own backyard.
Polk County will be on the precipice of this tiny market come fall of this year. A micro eatery will be opened by Chef Jules Debois from Marseille, France, a region renowned for its culinary innovation. Fifteen years ago, Chef Debois opened the doors to his first restaurant centered around tiny dishes called Pas de Paysans, literally translating to “No Peasants” in English.
The almost impossible-to-get-into restaurant (due both to its low ceilings and extensive waiting list) earned the chef 2 Michelin Stars. With minimally constructed traditional French fare, like beef bourguignon, confit de canard, and chocolate soufflé served at Pas de Paysans, Chef Debois is planning to take his Polk County restaurant in a different direction.
“I wanted to give the American people food they would understand – simple, slow, unrefined,” said the chef. “It was important to me when conceptualizing my first U.S. restaurant to give the people an experience they’ve never had but would not be confused or scared by.”
The Polk County eatery, Petit Appetit, will have simple American cuisine – hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken fingers, French fries and the like.
Debois has been perfecting his 1-inch in diameter bacon cheeseburger for the better part of a year now. From the doneness of the tiny meat to the perfectly placed accouterments atop the burger, it’s sure to be your new addiction.
A half-inch Florida frank will be the star of the menu. The hotdog is placed carefully with tiny tongs onto a micro-bun and topped with a single chopped onion and dropper-full of chili.
Tiny food doesn’t equate to a tiny price point, however. With prices starting at $25 per dish, or “bite” as they are listed on the menu, it remains to be seen whether even Central Florida’s most dedicated foodies will venture to the bourgeois establishment to drop a paycheck on a Barbie-sized bite to eat. But, according to the chef, it is well worth it.
“The artistry and genius that I put into my food are truly priceless. Polk County should thank me for coming here first,” he said.
The method of the craft is just as important as the final product to Chef Jules Debois. When he opened Pas de Paysans, Debois commissioned a French art supply company to make a micro pottery wheel and kiln so that he could create his own tiny cookware, dishes, and utensils. He will be bringing the same innovation to his U.S. restaurant. The chef wanted to be clear, his line of in-house kitchen products does not include drinking glasses – those will be normal size.
For a wholly immersive experience, ingredients and supplies will be stored in very small shelving, refrigerator, and even a “crawl-in” freezer. The food will be prepared on a small section of counter and cooked in his tiny oven, stove, or deep fryer before being placed on a tiny dish to be served.
As for why Polk County was given the honor of being home to his first American restaurant versus New York or L.A., the chef said, “I watch the news, and I really sort of love Florida’s whacky reputation. And sure, I could have opened it in Tampa, St. Pete, Orlando, Miami or any place arguably cooler than Polk County, but I wanted new, never done before…a risk.”
Petit Appetit is slated to open in early fall in a renovated Chevrolet Astro van down by Peace River with sitting room for six per reservation.
“I’m thrilled to bring my tiny creations to your tiny lives,” remarked the chef.