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The Acclaimed Chef Behind Clown Bar Is Opening His Own Paris Restaurant

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Sota Atsumi is leaving the Paris bistro to open his first solo project

Sota Atsumi
Constance van Heule/Chefs Club

The chef responsible for making Paris’s Clown Bar a required dining destination is striking out on his own. Tokyo-born Sota Atsumi is leaving the imaginative natural wine bistro with plans to launch Maison, his first solo project, in Paris this September.

Details for Maison are still coming together, but Atsumi is eyeing a 40-seat space in the 11th arrondissement near Clown Bar. He wants the design to be comfortable and for diners to feel at home, hence the name Maison, which translates to “house” in French. “I worked for a long time in the world of high gastronomy, but my heart is in home-style cooking,” Atsumi says.

Atsumi describes his culinary style as “modern, gastronomical, and simple,” and his dishes often embrace luxury ingredients, along with flavors from France, Japan, and elsewhere around the world. At Clown Bar, the 32-year-old chef was lauded for melding French technique with Japanese simplicity. He earned particular praise for his sardine beignets, and a delicate pithivier pie filled with duck, foie gras, yuzu, and dates. He not only convinced diners to try veal brains dressed in a bonito vinaigrette, but love them.

Atsumi’s savory french toast with cuttlefish ragu, lentils, and egg yolk
Aaron Arizpe/Chefs Club

At Maison, Atsumi’s plates will remain true to his Japanese-French roots and reflect the “simplistic approach to cooking” he honed at Clown Bar. As at Clown Bar, organic and biodynamic wines will play a significant role, and Atsumi also plans to incorporate “the flavors that excite New Yorkers,” which he hopes to learn during an upcoming residency at New York City restaurant and culinary incubator space Chefs Club.

From April 26 to July 21, Atsumi will serve many of his signature Clown Bar dishes, like that pithivier pie, alongside new creations fated for Maison, like crispy sunchokes with Comté, walnut, and uni; and savory French toast with squid ink, lentils, and egg yolk. Dishes will rotate out a couple times a month based on ingredient availability. Although details on Maison’s Paris menu are still up in the air, in New York, guests will be able to order a la carte, or opt for a five-course, $85 tasting menu, with natural wines and sake to drink.

Although most chefs who have popped-up at Chefs Club don’t redecorate the space, Atsumi plans to redo the entire restaurant in an aesthetic similar to what future diners may experience at Maison in Paris. Japanese contemporary artist Jun Inoue, known for his calligraphy-meets-street-art style, will help craft the look in New York, including walls adorned with intricate lithographs from Idem Paris, a printing studio once used by artists like Picasso and Matisse.

Maison at Chefs Club will run Monday through Friday from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m., and on Saturday from 5:30 to 11:30 p.m. New Yorkers who never made it over to Clown Bar while Atsumi was cooking can snag seats now via Resy.

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