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Kale make its Paris debut

If Kristen Beddard has her way, kale will soon be widely available in Parisian markets and restaurants. The American transplant is working hard to deliver seeds sourced from England to French farmers who are willing to grow them. She’s like a modern-day Johnny Appleseed, but with better hair. She’s also recruiting chefs to transform a vegetable that their French clients have experienced only as a decorative plant.

This Thursday, September 20th marks kale’s “official” coming out party at Verjus. Chef Braden Perkins will be using the leafy green (sourced from Terroirs d’Avenir) in a dish for the wine bar. Kristen will be bringing her own composition using kale grown by Joël Thibault.

What’s next for the self-described leader of the Paris “kale army”? After this one-off at Verjus, Kristen wants to inspire more local chefs to try working with kale. She says that Septime, Frenchie and Au Passage have already expressed interest if they could only get their hands on the chewy, curly green. Considering that Terroirs d’Avenir (a produce distributor they all use) has just added kale to their daily ingredient text blasts, the vegetable that Clotilde Dusoulier named “the most elusive ingredient of 2011” may soon be turning up in some of the trendiest restaurants in Paris.

This would make Kristen very happy, indeed. “I didn’t want to just make kale available to me, my husband, and the expat community. I want to fill the white space and introduce French people to this vegetable that’s so popular in America and in the countries surrounding France,” she says. Toward that end, she still has some organic seeds to share with any curious and willing local farmers.

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By Meg Zimbeck

Meg Zimbeck reviews restaurants for Paris by Mouth and is our founder and Editor-in-Chief.


  1. Dear Kristen,

    Bravo! I’ve been desperately seeking kale since I moved permanently to Le Pecq/St Germain west of Paris 41 years ago, even bringing back (faded) leaves from the US to show grocers.
    I would like to join forces with your project to promote kale in general, and especially to have access in St Germain en Laye.
    Please let me know what I can do as of now,
    Best regards,
    Barbara Hano

  2. Kale in french must be chou or chou frisee….
    Kale is known in the southern part of Denmark – close to the German border, as Grønkål = Green cabbage/kale. Do you use the word kale for this species only or can it be used as generic name for other types of cabbage as well?

  3. Not sure what the fuss is about: kale is well known in Belgium (‘krulkool’ or ‘boerenkool’) and used primarily in soups. My neighbor actually only grew it for his rabbits and said he had eaten too much of it during the war. Kale is also well known as a primary ingredient of the Northern Portuguese caldo verde. In Portugal, a special type of ‘passe-vite’ is used to cut up the leaves into thin slices.

  4. Very cool project, Kristen! Like Agnès, I read about kale via all the American food blogs — only to learn that it wasn’t grown in France (not the dinasaur kale, anyway!) Then I remembered my old account… and ordered some from a small company 🙂 I immediately planted the seeds and was thrilled to see the first leaves (which were impatiently harvested, as baby kale, after only three weeks! 🙂 Now to be patient and watch them grow up! For those who don’t live in Paris, enjoy planting the seeds in a pot or flower bed.

  5. What’s the french word for Kale? Kale is ALL the rage here and I almost feel like a bad foodie for not being obsessed with kale like everyone else ~ such food blogger peer pressure 😉
    I blame it on being french. Good luck in your efforts, I enjoy reading about it.

  6. I just want to precise that kale supplied by Terroirs d’Avenir is not produced by Joel Thibault but by Laurent Berrurier, a farmer from Val d’Oise (great specialist in cabbages and other rare vegetables).

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