An 18th century inn in the Provence region of France and a luxurious island resort in the Indian Ocean are the settings for two new dining spots from Alain Ducasse, the only chef in France to run two three-Michelin-star restaurants.
Looking beyond his Paris and Monaco strongholds, the 43-year-old Ducasse -- who now oversees a total of nine restaurants -- is expanding his culinary empire by bringing his less-formal dining concepts to new markets around the world.
Aside from his three-stars, Le Louis XV in Monte Carlo and Alain Ducasse in Paris (each of which holds a Wine Spectator Grand Award for its wine list), Ducasse runs three less-formal restaurants in Paris and one in Monte Carlo, as well as a French country inn.
The latest additions to his portfolio, which both opened in December 1999, are L'Hostellerie de l'Abbaye de la Celle in the French village of Celle and Spoon des Iles in Le St.-Giran hotel on the island of Mauritius. "I enjoy developing new projects that allow me to work with different foods, flavors and aromas," said Ducasse.
L'Hostellerie de l'Abbaye de la Celle is a 10-room inn set in an 18th century Provengal building next to a 12th century Benedictine abbey. The restaurant is headed by chef Benont Witz, who worked at Louis XV and at Ducasse's other inn, La Bastide de Moustiers.
The menu, which highlights local products and ingredients, includes stuffed truffled pullet with herbs; duckling with olives; rabbit with mustard and fondant vegetables; and pea soup served with garlic bread sticks. The dishes are based on old regional recipes served at the inn over the years, Ducasse said.
Spoon des Iles is the first foreign version of his Parisian eatery, Spoon Food and Wine. The chef, Maxime Luvara, who was previously at Louis XV, offers a menu of American, Asian, Latin and Indian Ocean specialties, such as a soup of green, tender herbs; blackened chicken breast with spiced yogurt, coriander and lemon seasoning and wok-sautied vegetables; and spit-roasted veal steak with truffle sauce and cheese macaroni.
The wine lists at both restaurants were developed by Ducasse's longtime sommelier Girard Margeon. L'Hostellerie features mostly young local wines from the little-known Coteaux Varois appellation, as well as selections from Provence and Languedoc-Roussillon. To compliment its multiethnic menu, Spoon des Iles' 180-wine list is more international, ranging from the grands crus of France to lesser-known wines from California's Santa Barbara County.
The Mauritian spin-off is only the first in a series. Ducasse is planning to open a Spoon in Tokyo in July, followed by one in London. "With each restaurant, I like to adapt to local markets, to listen to and breathe in local atmosphere," said Ducasse.
"The image of French cuisine is very strict and rigorous," he added. "And this is what I'm cultivating in France and Monaco. But with Spoons, I wanted to break away from this elitist image and offer a more informal, casual ambience."
L'Hostellerie de l'Abbaye de la Celle
Place du Giniral de Gaulle
83170 La Celle, France
Tel: (011) 33-04-98-05-1414
Fax: (011) 33-04-98-05-1415
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Spoon des Iles -- Le St.-Giran
Belle Mare, Mauritius
Tel : (011) 230-401-1551
Fax : (011) 230-401-1552
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