The interior decor of Taku Sekine’s restaurant Dersou in Paris is shabby chic: The tables and floor are rough, unvarnished wood and the walls are artfully distressed, showing patches of plaster, chipped paint and brick. There is only a menu degustation; that is to say a tasting menu of what Sekine improvises that day. His decision-making process is a combination of imagination and the necessity of keeping a fixed price when the cost and availability of fresh ingredients varies daily.

There is also a certain amount of tetchiness with the idea that he should feed his clientele what they want, rather than what he wants to create. “I really want to cook what’s nice in the garden or the sea that day. If we have a fixed menu we’ll be stuck … 30 percent of people always want to have vegetables, a percentage always want fish; we have some people, like Americans, who always want meat. This way is very instant, but changing the menu every day is not the point; it’s because I want to be free, actually … from everything.”

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