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Restaurant of a Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux and hotel in the country. France,Saint-Père-sous-Vézelay

Marc Meneau

L’Espérance Saint-Père-sous-Vézelay 89450

My family has been in my village for five hundred years and my origins have led me to create a cuisine in my own likeness: drawn from my terroir and inspired by Vézelay.

My father’s saddlery, my mother’s Café-Epicerie and my encounter with Françoise, all have influenced my taste and style in “cuisine”: a cuisine that brings a shine to the eye and is based on local produce, international travel and changing tastes.

From 1970 to today, a long succession of refurbishments have made the Café-Epicerie first an auberge and then a Relais & Châteaux where the kitchens became the Espérance restaurant.

What was your most moving culinary experience?
My first meal with my Master André Guillot at the “Vieux Marly” in Marly Le Roi where I discovered real feuilletés, light sauces and the first meat jus deglazed with water.

The most amusing kitchen incident you ever witnessed?
During an evening dinner, themed around 18th and 19th century cuisine, we reproduced a Talleyrand-style stuffed dish, which involved serving a whole wild salmon. The waiter caught his foot on the carpet and the salmon fell into pieces on the floor. The guests hooted with laughter when they saw their meal on the ground.
A single clap of the hands from the Maître d’Hôtel, and a second whole salmon made its appearance. What a relief for the guests!

Your best piece of advice for amateur chefs?
Before you make a recipe, read it over thoroughly and add or take away what you think is necessary. That will help you learn how the dish is put together and you’ll find it easier to make.

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