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URBAN GUIDE

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December 2023

Monaco, a festival of stars

Monaco has not only attracted generations of Michelin-starred chefs - from Ducasse to Alléno - but also created some of its own...

By Milena Radoman
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Artichaut épineux alla giudea et ortie brûlée, anémone de mer poêlée, caviar Kristal : un plat « terre-mer » du jeune chef Emmanuel Pilon, à qui Alain Ducasse a confié les rênes du Louis XV. © Matteo Carassale
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Marcel Ravin, chef étoilé du Blue Bay et locavore convaincu, a mis à sa carte des Endives citrus et huîtres perles de Monaco au kiwi.© Marion Butet

Monaco has not only attracted generations of Michelin-starred chefs - from Ducasse to Alléno - but also created some of its own...

“Here, we must offer dreams, pleasure and beauty” was François Blanc's ambition when he founded the SBM and Monte-Carlo. The pleasures of the palate were inevitably part of the equation, so the visionary businessman brought his first chef from Hombourg as early as 1875. César Ritz, then director of the Grand Hôtel,  hired Auguste Escoffier, who took charge of the kitchens in winter from 1884. Here, he invented such dishes as Timbale de Filets de Sole Grimaldi, Poularde and Fraises Monte-Carlo... A century later, however, it was the arrival of Ducasse and the creation of Le Louis XV at the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo that put the Principality firmly on the world gastronomic map! “There are now around 170 restaurants, six of which boast nine Michelin stars – a culinary feat for a country occupying a mere 2 km2. A destination on a par with Dubai, London, and New York!” sums up Takeo Yamazaki, chef at Yoshi, the region's only Michelin-starred Japanese restaurant.

 

The Ducasse dynamic

Alain Ducasse was just 33 when he won three Michelin stars in 1987 in record time. Le Louis XV, with its “Naturalité” concept, became the world’s first palace restaurant to win the supreme award and a base for Ducasse in his global conquest... “Le Louis XV is my DNA, my hard drive”, the multiple Michelin-starred chef has often said – Prince Rainier and businessman Michel Pastor brought him to the Principality, which proved to be a stroke of genius. Franck Cerutti oversaw the kitchen for several years. But Ducasse has now appointed several loyal lieutenants to take on the challenge of catering for “a demanding clientele who love gastronomy and are used to frequenting the finest restaurants”, explains Dominique Lory, who came from Paris at the master's suggestion. 

The former Executive Chef at Le Louis XV is now in charge of Le Grill, a Michelin-starred restaurant on the 8th floor of the Hôtel de Paris, famous for its sunroof, panoramic views, and soufflés. Chef Lory has added grilled vegetables and vegetable jus to the menu at this legendary restaurant, where grilled meats are king. According to Dominique Lory, who oversees everything prepared in the palace's kitchens, from room service to the American Bar, remaining among the gastronomic elite means constantly innovating. “You always have to keep surprising people, changing the menu regularly...,” observes the Michelin-starred chef.

Advocates of “sun-drenched” Mediterranean cuisine

SBM's palaces are multiplying the number of stars. Joël Garault's Vistamar is one such restaurant, which has since become Pavyllon Monte-Carlo and is run by Yannick Alléno. Ducassed called him too – he “believed it was better to have him on our side rather than competing across the street”. What attracted the Pavyllon Ledoyen Paris pilot-designer here? “Quality produce and local fish stocks are a real pleasure for chefs, who make them their playground. Our fish is fresh and caught in local waters using sustainable fishing methods. Monaco can boast a gastronomic scene that draws on a rich and abundant surrounding terroir”, says the three Michelin-star chef, who demonstrates his expertise at the Festival des Étoilés with its 4-hand dinners organised by the resort's Michelin-starred chefs. 

Marcel Ravin, founder of Le Blue Bay at the Monte-Carlo Bay, now with two Michelin stars, has imposed his “cultural identity-based Creole cuisine”. “I started from nothing here”, says the chef who pioneered the locavore movement - he cultivates sweet potatoes and turmeric in his vegetable garden. And he's looking forward to springing more surprises in his renovated restaurant, with alcoves devoted to creativity... “The Principality wants to be a player in both today's and tomorrow's gastronomy”, says Emmanuel Pilon, another Ducasse baby and current chef at Le Louis XV, citing the Sustainable Gastronomy Summit organised last September by Alain Ducasse and the Prince Albert II Foundation. 

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Franck Cerutti a travaillé plus de 30 ans avec Alain Ducasse.©ducasseparis
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Yannick Alléno bouscule les codes avec sa « gastronomie de comptoir ». Ici, un Feuille à feuille de bœuf Wagyu, aux champignons de Paris.
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Dominique Lory, chef exécutif de l'Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo, est en charge du Grill, restaurant mythique qui sublime la cuisson au feu de bois.Photos © MONTE-CARLO Société des Bains de Mer

Culinary giants in tandem

It's impossible to forget that Monaco also attracted the likes of Joël Robuchon from the other side of the Place du Casino. At Le Métropole, the inventor of cauliflower caviar jelly has created an elegant 2-star restaurant run by his right-hand man, Christophe Cussac, alongside Yoshi. Christophe Cussac opened Les Ambassadeurs following Robuchon's death and now hopes to win back his Michelin stars. La Table d'Antonio Salvatore at the Rampoldi, which offers contemporary, immersive, and surprising Italian cuisine, received its 2021 award from the famous guide just five months after it opened. For the chef: “Competition is fierce. Monaco has the best the world has to offer. We want nothing but the finest in all our restaurants, and we want to give our customers an emotional experience. For me, cuisine is as much an art form as music or painting”. Antonio Salvatore, who brilliantly took over the reins of the Monaco institution that opened in 1946 in 2016, has recently inaugurated his third New York address with Rampoldi New York: a blend of innovation, tradition, and Made in Monaco glamour.

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© Matthieu Cellard
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© Matthieu Cellard Christophe Cussac, chef des cuisines de l'Hôtel Métropole Monte-Carlo, fait revivre Les Ambassadeurs, restaurant emblématique des Années 20, avec sa cuisine méditerranéenne inventive et millimitrée. Une de ses entrées : Le Caviar et l'œuf bio, enchâssé dans sa fleur de courgette.
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Le Riso in primatera, une recette italienne d'Antonio Salvatore, chef du Rampoldi à Monaco et... New York.
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© Kokostudio

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