All About Fifth interviews Bruno Berrebi, co-owner of Moutarde, as part of our ongoing series that highlights local leaders in the business and nonprofit sector along the Avenue.
Where are you from originally and what brought you to Park Slope? My partner and I come from Paris. We love New York and particularly Brooklyn and Park Slope for its welcoming atmosphere. To us, it is like a village, like an "arrondissement" in Paris. This is why I wanted to open the restaurant here—it reminds me of the small towns in France where we import most of our recipes.
When did you open the restaurant? We decided to open Moutarde in 2002, just a few months after September 11th. We had reasons to be scared to open the restaurant in the midst of the economic and security risks following this horrible event. But we were sure that this country where we decided to build our restaurant was strong and could make it through such a tragedy.
How did you choose the name "Moutarde" for your restaurant? Moutarde is a symbol for French cuisine. It is the first condiment in France. Also the grains of mustard are beautiful and the color, the flower, it is a strong spice. Like the American people’s love of ketchup—for the French, it is la moutarde
What are some of the challenges facing your business and what are some of its greatest rewards? Moutarde Brooklyn represents a real relationship between the local population and ourselves (as French newcomers). So the most difficult challenge was adapting and refining our product and concept in that context. Today we truly understand the needs and desires of our customers and friends, and our menu reflects the development of this relationship over time.
I heard you might be renovating the restaurant...what's your inspiration? Moutarde is a good representation of the traditional French bistro. But we are eager to renew its image and follow an emergent French trend. Over the last few months in Paris we noticed an evolution in the "Café Français." They have changed their decor and menu. We call these "les cafés de le rue" or bistros of the street. Taking this as inspiration, we plan to close Moutarde for one month in August for renovation and bring a familial cuisine, "la cuisine dite de gavroche, de montmartre," in a more artistic and relaxed atmosphere and "fini le snobisme des bistros francais."
Merci pour l interview. A bientôt. Merci.
Interview conducted by Rebeccah Welch