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Born in Burgundy, “in the kitchen” of the family auberge, Christophe Cussac has had a very thorough formation, primordial for a top chef these days. After graduating from Ecole Hotelier Jean Drouant, Paris, he trained at the Hotel Hermitage, La Baule, La Tour d’Argent Paris and the legendary Troisgros, Roanne. After 13 years at the family Hotel L’Abbaye (where he won 2-Michelin stars) Cussac became protégé of the legendary Joel Robuchon.
“Coming to the Riviera changed my life”, he says. Cussac is credited with contributing to the 2-Michelin stars awarded to La Reserve, Beaulieu. This June sees him appointed Executive Chef at the Hotel Metropole, Monte Carlo. With direction from his spiritual Master, Joel Robuchon, Cussac is also supervising the Spa restaurant, bar, banquet facilities and Room Service. In the little spare time he has, Cussac’s delight is to discover new places, riding his BMW 850cc, the wind in his hair, his wife Marie-Helene as pillion passenger.
“Obviously there’s a big change in cuisine and products from my native Burgundy to the Mediterranean, when I arrived in Nice and discovered the colourful Cours Saleya market, with fish I’d never seen before such as fresh chapon, denti, palangre, it was a revelation. Less butter for a start, and I am now an avid collector of different olive oils, especially Terres Bormane which are the top quality, like vintage wines. For my rose, jasmine, and citrus fruit marmalades I rely on Confiserie Florian on the Port at Nice (or in Tourettes), they also make glazed fruits, crystallised flowers and the delightful chocolate orangettes. I worked two years learning Patisserie with Monsieur Robuchon at the Hotel Nikko, Paris, so I appreciate quality; in Nice I discovered Patisserie Lac, where I indulge in my favourite Opera gateaux and miniature Caroline cakes.
Just alongside the port at Nice is L’Ane Rouge recently re-opened after an accidental fire destroyed everything. Michel Devilliers has re-built his restaurant with tender loving care, his new state-of-the-art kitchen is the envy of all the local chefs, as is the aquarium.
My friend Joel Garrault at The Vistamar, Monte Carlo wants me to go fishing with him, but I tell him I’d rather eat his catch in his restaurant Le Vistamar in the Hotel Hermitage! There I sit on the terrace, overlooking the sea, appreciating Joel’s early morning efforts. Recently Monsieur Robuchon introduced me to Monte Carlo’s first Japanese restaurant, Fuji, where we ate sushi, sashimi and watched the sushi-master at work.
Inspired by his many trips to Asia is my friend Stephane Raimbault at L’Oasis, La Napoule. We were students together at Hotel School in Paris, and we like to check out each others’ progress from time to time. L’Oasis is a picture perfect restaurant with a shady terrace for summer eating and Stephane works wonders with his brothers Antoine and Francois. I particularly like his lobster teriyaki and his lacquered loup is a real treat. I try to resist the sensational patisserie in the adjacent boutique, not always with success!
When I go to a restaurant I like to take the opportunity to eat slowly. In the hills above Nice Jean-Marc Delacourt has awakened the sleepy village of Falicon with his contemporary concept of cuisine, wine, view, décor. No open kitchen here, but closed circuit TV so diners can watch the culinary acrobatics between courses.
Isabelle and Jean Pierre Silva are friends of mine from Burgundy. Last year they decided to buy a 15th century mill near Grasse. Having run their 2-star Michelin restaurant for 22 years, it was time for a change! At L’Hostellerie du Vieux-Moulin, the Silvas still work in tandem. Madame is Maitre d’hotel/sommelier looking after the extensive wine cellars (10,000 excellent bottles, brought from Burgundy). Jean Pierre is happily installed in his state-of-the-art open plan kitchen (with a guest table for the really curious). Only 15 covers, and a “no choice” menu inspired by his local market!
Also inland, located in a charming stone country house, is Lou Cigalon, where Alain Parodi’s signature dishes are created with local seasonal products, L’Asperge de Vignelaure, drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with generous slivers of superb ham, topped with a croustille of parmesan. And his famous Finistere pigeon, boned and roasted, matched with rissoles of pistachio-spiked ris de veau and a charlotte of endives. To finish, the lightest of mille feuilles with pine nut ice cream and home made guimauves."
Le Vistamar, Hotel Hermitage,
T: +377 92 16 27 72
26 avenue Princesse-Grace, Monaco.
T: +377 92 16 20 36
Rue Jean-Honoré Carle, La Napoule,
T: 04 93 49 95 52
1 place Marcel Eusebi, Falicon.
T: 04 93 84 94 57
7 quai des Deux-Emmanuel, Nice.
T:04 93 89 49 63
18 rue Barla, Nice,
T: 04 93 55 37 74
Terres Bormane products,
La Maison de l’Olive,
18 rue Pairoliere, Nice
14 Quai Papacino, Nice,
T: 04 93 55 21 46
4-6 Boulevard Carnot, Valbonne,
T: 04 93 12 27 07
Hosetellerie du Vieux Moulin
158 Route de Nice, 06650, Le Rouret
T: 04 93 77 39 30