The Bohemian Butcher," as Mr. Le Bourdonnec calls himself on his business cards, is the most eccentric of the new celebrities. Besides the naked pictures, featured in a charity calendar, he is known for turning down Michelin-starred chefs who want to buy his beef. Next month, he's scheduled to open a steak house in Paris—part of ambitious expansion plans just four years after buying his business out of bankruptcy court.
When he restarted his business, Mr. Le Bourdonnec focused on local customers instead of high-profile chefs. Selling to restaurants "turned into a business thing, everything started to be too expensive. If you tell me my meat is too expensive, I get angry," he says. (He sells his iconic cut, the côte de boeuf, for €75 a kilo.) Now, 80% of his business comes from the Paris region, 10% from the rest of France and the remainder from abroad.
Though his shop was out of the way of Paris's best restaurant suppliers, a few years after taking over the butchery he was discovered by France's most famous chef, Alain Ducasse. Mr. Ducasse had tasted a steak cut by Mr. Le Bourdonnec and contacted him. The young butcher began inventing new cuts of meat for Mr. Ducasse, which gained him early credibility among France's haute cuisine. He later gained other high-profile clients such as Le Meurice's Yannick Alléno.
Mr. Le Bourdonnec has plenty of expansion on his plate. With partners, he is set to open his first restaurant, the Beef Club, in Paris next month. It will only serve British meat, which he argues is raised more ecologically than French cows.