I’ll be honest with you: I’m a professional glutton. As the executive editor of Bon Appétit, I am responsible for sampling each of the 50 recipes in every issue at least three times. I dine at a new restaurant almost every night. On top of that, I’m a culinary golden retriever—if I really like something at a tasting, I’ll bring a full serving back to my desk. But I’ve always tried to balance my appetite with daily exercise, and I bike to work and take the stairs instead of the elevator. Still, in my world of burger tests and countless Thanksgivings in July (to meet the printer’s deadlines for our November issue), those efforts had stopped cutting it. While I didn’t need to drop pounds, I did wish all of my body sculpting worked where I wanted it to. (I’ve never been able to lose the most stubborn part of my belly.) So, after a bit of research, I was ready for a smorgasbord of state-of-the-art fat-burning treatments that didn’t require too much work on my part.
And where better to start, I thought, than at a spa owned by winemakers? New York’s Caudalíe recently imported “vinotherapist” Daphne Coulmance from the mother ship in Bordeaux, France, to its operation at the Plaza hotel, where she serves as the body-slimming expert. Before she started the Anti-Cellulite Body Treatment (for $185, it promises to de-dimple and de-puff the entire body), Coulmance warned me in her elegantly accented English that this would be a no-pain, no-gain operation—“but after a few treatments,” she cooed, “you barely notice the pain.” I certainly noticed this time, as she pinched and rolled every bit of my flesh in maneuvers meant to increase circulation that would, she explained, flush areas blocked with toxins. “Ah, this area is sensitive!” she said as her work around my knees elicited groans. “Do you often get swollen ankles?” Um, toujours.
“It’s not a magic bullet,” she said of the 50-minute treatment. “But there are people who come back every week.” After I told her where I worked, we spent the rest of the session talking about New York restaurants—the whole experience, in fact, was so French that I half expected her to offer me a cigarette. Back at my desk, my ankles were indeed less puffy—but everything higher up was pretty much the same.
The notion of a French person helping me slim down was funny: I’d just returned from five days in Paris, during which I’d eaten nine dinners and eight lunches. All of which seemed far, far away as the stunning, Brittany-born Isabelle Bellis—part holistic nutritionist, part epidermologist— greeted me in her luxe-modern waiting room on the Upper East Side. It’s the latter title that qualifies her to tackle clients’ lumps and bumps via the New Age magic (actually, it’s more of a science) of cupping. The first words out of the extraterrestrial beauty’s mouth: “You have two hours for me, I hope?” I nodded dumbly. La Grenouille would have to wait.