The stars shone bright at the Hermitage Hotel recently as two Michelin star Chef Philippe Mille entered the Vistamar kitchen for one weekend only. The result? A kaleidoscope of gastronomic proportions.
‘Starry nights’ is a winning formula for Head Chef Jean-Philippe Borro and Hermitage Hotel General Manager Louis Starck. For two days only, guests in Monaco are able to experience an exciting melange of cuisine from the Michelin star kitchen of the Vistamar and that of starred chefs from across France.
Hot on the heels of three Michelin star chef Yannick Alleno – the leader of ‘modern cuisine’ – in August, came protégé two Michelin star chef Philippe Mille in late October.
At an exclusive press lunch on Saturday the 23rd, Monaco Life discovered the talents of this very soft-spoken chef who is on an adventurous mission to excite all the senses.
Growing up as a child in Sarthe, north-west France, Philippe Mille spent his weekends and holidays on the farm with his uncle and grandmother, relishing the sweet scent of garden vegetables, the fragrance of fruit from the orchard, and the flavour of farm-reared free-range chicken.
After developing a fine-tuned palate at an early age, Philippe went on to train under the finest starred chefs in the country, including three Michelin star Chef Yannick Alleno with whom he won the Bocus bronze medal at the Bocuse d’Or.
Chef Mille now heads the two Michelin starred restaurant Le Parc in the Domaine Les Crayères, a stunning Relais & Châteaux property in the heart of Reims that sits adjacent to the Pommery Champagne house and is a favourite among culinary travellers.
In Monte-Carlo, the chef, who also holds the prestigious title Meilleur ouvrier de France, presented his favourite ingredient – langoustine – which led a six-course menu celebrating seafood and champagne.
Each plate was a work of art: langoustine tartare served on a stained-glass shellfish coulis (top photo); grilled razor clams with a colourful garden of shaved cauliflower; fine white turbot with contrasting black caviar powder; scallop ‘cushion’ swathed in a wild artichoke sabayon. It is clear that the chef is looking to enamour both the eyes and the tastebuds.
“For me, art is very important. All the arts, and all the senses,” Chef Mille told Monaco Life. “For example, I created my langoustine dish around the stained-glass windows of the Notre Dame de Reims Cathedral because it is important to have the same thing on your plate as what you see in your environment, to feel the relationship.”
The Domaine Les Crayères is situated in the Champagne region, and – much to the delight of guests – champagne features heavily in the dishes that Chef Mille creates. A head sommelier is also charged with pairing each dish with a glass of this delicate and complex wine.
“We have 1,000 different champagnes at the Domaine, so it is an enormous task for the sommelier to pair champagnes with the menu. But it is the perfect way to discover this wine and the guests really enjoy it,” explained the chef.
These “starry nights” at the Vistamar are quite a coup for the Hermitage. Chef Philippe Mille says he prefers to invite chefs into his kitchen rather than guest at others, but “It is a pleasure to be here because it is a very nice hotel and the team is very good, they have a great relationship with their head chef.”
Chef Mille and his team of three travelled 980 kilometres to Monaco for the appearance, armed with their fresh local produce and perfectly paired champagnes to deliver a gastronomic dinner and a chic Sunday brunch.
For the chefs, it is an opportunity to learn from the best in their field. For the people of Monaco, it is a very short journey to some of the finest starred restaurants in Europe.
Photos by Monaco Life, all rights reserved
Interview: Leader of ‘modern cuisine’ Yannick Alléno
A perfect pairing