When Elsa reopened in April for the season, the former 100% organic restaurant had a new emphasis: to be a restaurant inspired by nature, enhanced by delicate creativity.
Monaco Life spoke to Chef Mélanie Serre about the sustainable fine dining restaurant at Monte-Carlo Beach.
Monaco Life: This is your second year at Elsa. After understanding the restaurant, its clientele and the concept, how have you adapted/evolved the menu this year?
Mélanie Serre: This year, we have chosen to remove ourselves from the constraints of organic farming in order to work as closely as possible to the nature that surrounds us. It means fewer obligations for our suppliers, and more creative possibilities for me in the kitchen. For example, I used nettles on my spring menu: herbs that are found in large quantities in nature, along the paths, and which grow without chemicals and yet were not considered organic because they are not certified by an organisation.
Do you often get out in the gardens and see for yourself what is fresh and available? Does it inspire your dishes?
We work with the Domaine d’Agerbol, located in Roquebrune Cap Martin, 700m as the crow flies from the hotel. This garden produces only for Monte-Carlo Beach, and we go regularly with the teams or with my sous chef to admire the new shoots or to collect some herbs and flowers. We are then delivered produce two-to-three times a week to the restaurant for vegetables.
You’ve received some important accolades in the last year – Grande de Demain by Gault et Millau, the Ethical and Sustainability Award in the recent La Liste… As a young female chef, what do these acknowledgments mean to you?
These are two great rewards that I am very happy to share with my team in the kitchen, but also with my team in the dining room. We work hard every day to satisfy our customers, to create new recipes, to work responsibly from an ecological and environmental point of view. Today our daily steps seem completely normal to us because they have been acquired by the whole team, but it is always nice to be rewarded for our efforts.
Monte-Carlo Beach General Manager Daniele Garcelon says the goal now is to gain back the Michelin star that the restaurant lost under the previous chef. Is that your goal too?
The priority is and will always remain for me to have happy customers, and customers who come back and that we retain. Of course, we all want the Michelin star back at Elsa restaurant. But that’s not my motivation every morning to go to work. I think that if we take pleasure in doing our job, together as a team, the clients will feel it, and the guides will also feel it… So we have to continue the adventure, as we started last year, and one day, we will be rewarded.
Photo source: Monte-Carlo SBM