chef-name: Jean-Paul Lacombe

Léon de Lyon is perfection, a succession of beautifully appointed intimate dining rooms which are the stage for chef Jean-Paul Lacombe as he creates his perfectly prepared dishes. The chef, the place, the food, all illustrate his nation’s culinary heritage.

The personal history of Lacombe is intertwined with his family’s restaurant. Léon de Lyon harks back to 1904, a fact that is evident in its beautiful antiques and stained glass windows. This celebrated restaurant, the best in the very heart of France, became part of the Lacombe family in 1949. In 1955 it won its first Michelin star.

When Paul Lacombe passed away in 1972, his wife, son, and daughter took over the reins. In 1978 Léon de Lyon won its second Michelin star; in 1981 it was selected by Gault Millau. In 1985 the restaurant was admitted to the Chaîne des Relais et Châteaux. By 1987, enthusiastic diners and critical acclaim brought admission to the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Cuisine Française, and in 1995 to Traditions et Qualité, Les Grandes Tables du Monde.

Lacombe creates dishes which draw on Lyonnaise cuisine and use local products, changing the menu with the seasons. Great Chefs caught up with Jean-Paul in September of 1998 to film four dishes for their Great Chefs of the World series and Great Chefs of France series: Praline Tart with Praline Ice Cream; Suckling Pig Foie Gras Terrine; Pike Dumplings; and Potato Stuffed with Pig’s Feet, Foie Gras, Truffles and Mushrooms. While filming, his personal friend, Chef Michel Rostang of Restaurant Michel, showed up to watch. We had just filmed Chef Rostang the day before.

Host to Presidents, Great Chef Lacombe and his Chef du Cuisine, Guy Labonde, continue to perfect his art, updating traditional dishes for contemporary palates.