Eating with a Companion

Internationally inspired dishes made with seasonal and regional products are prepared with a distinctly French touch at Gesa Hansen and Charles Compagnon’s neo-brasserie 52 Faubourg Saint-Denis in Paris. The couple cooked a favourite for us to sample.

The way to the heart is through the stomach, as the saying goes. And we’re left with no doubt as to its truth after a meeting with Gesa Hansen and Charles Compagnon. Gesa, an interior designer from Germany’s Sauerland region — and a passionate adopted Parisian — met her husband, the restaurateur Charles, in his first eatery, Le Richer, where she started out as a regular and ended up a fixture. And in the same way, the couple is now a family of five: the Compagnon restaurant empire has grown significantly over recent years. Besides Le Richer, since 2014 Charles also runs 52 Faubourg Saint-Denis, right around the corner from the new 25hours Hotel Terminus Nord in the trendy 10th arrondissement.

‘We love the neighbourhood and live right above the restaurant, except for when we escape to the countryside for the weekend,’ says Charles. His country home is tucked away in the picturesque town of Courances, where he cultivates vegetables and even roasts the coffee that he delivers to his own restaurants and a few other cafés. ‘But the 10th arrondissement has become fairly fancy. The idea behind 52 Faubourg Saint-Denis was to open a modern but affordable brasserie here in the neighbourhood.’

Instead of the usual stodgy fare served in many French bistros, Charles has created a weekly menu of light dishes, prepared using regional and seasonal ingredients. They include delicious treats like burrata with puréed bell pepper and olives, mackerel with broccoli cream and thickened coconut, and lentil salad with aubergine caviar, courgette, and tahini — all of them inspired by international cuisine, and artfully arranged by his creative, multicultural kitchen team — using ‘French techniques’, as the native Parisian is quick to emphasise.

For all its modern dishes and eye-catchingly hip style, the neo-brasserie has nevertheless remained a family restaurant. And it’s certainly a family project: while Charles is in charge of the food and drink, Gesa looked after the design concept and the purpose-built solid wood furniture. All of the pieces were crafted by their own furniture company, which they run as a side business with Gesa’s family in Germany. But the designer only returns to visit the studio in Sauerland ‘once a month, tops’. Otherwise, she can often be found at 52 Faubourg Saint-Denis, where the whole family eats together as often as they can.

Gesa’s favourite dish there? ‘Choux’, she fires back, straight from the hip — the French take on cream puffs and a popular dessert in winter. But she’s equally enamoured with the tuna sashimi and artichoke cream that currently graces the menu, and which Charles has prepared for COMPANION. So are we. And it tastes best of all when sampled with all of your compagnons seated together round a big table.



Sashimi à la Française

For 6 people


300–500 g bonito or tuna for the sushi
500 g artichoke bottoms
12 whole artichokes
12 raspberries

1 sprig of basil
1 spring onion
1 lemon
1 dash of cream butte
white wine
table salt
whole peppercorns


For the sashimi

Ask your favourite fishmonger for bonito or regular tuna to prepare the sushi, reckoning with a good 50 to 70 grams of raw fish per person. Use a sharp knife to slice the fish into roughly one-centimetre thick strips, then season them with salt and olive oil.

For the artichoke-basil cream

Braise the artichoke bottoms — frozen ones are fine, as long as the quality is excellent — in the French ‘barigoule’ style: to do this, lightly braise the spring onion in oil, add the artichoke bottoms, season with salt and whole peppercorns, and douse in plenty of white wine.

As soon as the wine has evaporated, cover the artichoke bottoms with water and leave to simmer for 15 minutes, until they are very soft, almost mushy. Then drain the vegetables and mix in a sprig of finely chopped basil while they are still hot. Stir in some cream, butter, and the zest from half a lemon. Check the seasoning and put the cream aside to cool.

For the artichokes

Strip the leaves off the artichokes until only the hearts remain, keeping around three centimetres of the stalk. As before, braise the artichokes ‘barigoule’ style. The hearts take less time to cook, so check your progress after just a few minutes by poking the tip of a knife into the end of a stalk. The knife should sink in without resistance. Once they are done, leave the artichokes to cool and then cut into four parts.

Serving suggestion

Arrange the artichokes, cream, and sashimi on plates. Slice the raspberries in half (two per portion). Small basil leaves make for an attractive decoration. Bon appétit!






Plus d'articles

Plus d'infos

The Pogo and The Politics

Plus d'infos

Hamburg’s Got Groove

Hamburg’s iconic Elbphilharmonie is just as famous for its insane acoustics as it is for its programme, which weaves traditional classical music together with rock bands, festivals, and jazz — like the Scandinavian piano band Rymden, for example. On the occasion of their concert, we met the jazz trio in the so-called ‘Elphi’, where we delved into the history of the concert hall and considered, among other questions, whether jazz is the classical music of the 21st century.

Plus d'infos

The Jack of All Trades

Dieter Meier is someone who, without exaggeration, can be described as a music legend. With the band Yello, the Swiss native became world famous in the 80s together with his colleague Boris Blank. Heard their hits like ‘Oh Yeah’ and ‘The Race’? Experimental and electronic, and a little gaga, the tunes get under your skin thanks to Dieter’s deep voice. Yello still perform today. But music is by no means Dieter’s only mode of expression: Dieter, probably the best dressed rebel of Zurich, who even earned his living as a professional gambler for a while, started working as a performance and conceptual artist in the late 60s. In 1972, he took part in Documenta 5 in Kassel, for which he installed a metal plaque at the main station with the inscription, ‘Dieter Meier will stand on this plaque on 23 March 1994 from 3pm to 4pm’ — a promise he later kept. As a creative entrepreneur and investor, Dieter has his fingers everywhere in the game. His greatest passions, however, are the worlds of culinary delights and nature, and, following from that, his farm in Argentina, where he cultivates wine, breeds cattle, and spends a lot of time. He serves up products from his second home in his restaurants — of course this jack-of-all-trades is also a restaurateur. And he has also just set up a chocolate factory. Somewhere between his many projects, Dieter took a moment to answer some questions for COMPANION.

Plus d'infos

Generating a Genre

Natascha Augustin, senior creative director at Warner Chappell Music, is the cool-headed industry leader who’s responsible for propelling Germany’s hottest hip-hop and rap acts to the peak of international acclaim — though her humility prevents her from taking any of the credit. Having pioneered ‘Deutschrap’ (German rap) right from the beginning, her knack for navigating the ever-shifting tides of taste in popular music has stood not only Warner Chappell but also the entire industry in ever-stronger stead. Natascha took a moment out of her nonstop schedule to share with COMPANION how she discovers new talent, what she likes about the new wave of female German rappers, and her outlook for the future of the genre.

Plus d'infos

Ballads of a Bad Boy

Plus d'infos

The International Heartbeat of Frankfurt

Dasitu Kajela-Röttger and her husband, Michael Röttger, are a real dream team, both privately and professionally. They met and fell in love in 1985, at an African festival in their chosen home of Frankfurt am Main. At the time, Dasitu was organising an evening of Ethiopian Oromo culture, and Michael had just returned from a long trip to Africa and was enthusiastic about the music. Later, he also managed to convince Dasitu to become his accomplice in professional matters as well. Dasitu was already working in the intercultural field anyway, and she thought combining that with musical culture would be the perfect match. ‘I was only able to really spark her interest in West African music culture as time went on, though,’ says Michael, laughing.

back to
now we are talking.

Informations sur l'univers 25hours et actus locales - inscrivez-vous ici !