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Grande Dame

Culture Watch
Maxim's: Mirror of Parisian Life, written by Jean-Pascal Hesse.

Historian Jean-Pascal Hesse brings us into the belly of the Paris institution, Maxim’s, like never before in this incredible new tome from Assouline. A close collaborator with Pierre Cardin, (he published a survey of the famous couturier's creations, Pierre Cardin: 60 Years of Innovation), who better than Hesse to tell the story of this fabled restaurant, owned since 1981 by Cardin.

When Maxim’s opened more than a century ago thanks to the dream of a young waiter, Maxime Gaillard, it seemed to be destined for greatness. The right people happened upon Maxim’s from its earliest days, and it soon was taken over by a new owner who skyrocketed the Belle Epoque sensation to iconic status.

While the party hasn’t stopped since its inception in 1893, the 1950’s may have been the restaurant’s heyday, where the international jet set—Aristotle Onassis, Maria Callas, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Porfirio Rubirosa, Max Ophuls and Barbara Hutton—made Maxim’s their Paris fixture.

Then, in 1981, Pierre Cardin took over the restaurant and continues to own it to this day. Of course, since then, a slew of international outposts have opened, including restaurants in London, Monaco, Geneva, Brussels, Tokyo, Shanghai, Beijing and New York.

Throughout its history, Maxim’s was a breeding ground (and playground) for the day’s talent. Besides the starlets who hung around in its banquettes, those behind the scenes are of note, too—particularly the young chef who once worked there, Wolfgang Puck.

Today, evenings at Maxim’s blur into fantasy, with a mixture of creative patrons young and old, from fashion, the contemporary art world, and film.

A captivating history of this mythic place, the book Maxim’s also features an elegant collection of illustrated recipes—from Quail Confit to Fruit Charlotte—so gastronomes may try Maxim’s classic dishes at home.

Maxim's available at Books & Books Bal Harbour Shops.

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