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Baumanière & Spa - La Cabro d’Or.

Restaurant and hotel in the country. France,Les Baux-de-Provence

Jean-André Charial

Baumanière & Spa - La Cabro d’Or Les Baux-de-Provence 13520

My grandfather, Raymond Thuilier, who founded the Oustau de Baumanière, asked me if I would come and work with him and take over the restaurant. He was 72 and I was 24. I’d just left the prestigious HEC business school and had no experience of cooking apart from what I’d seen in the kitchen when I was a child.

When I arrived at Baumanière, I soon decided I wanted to be in the kitchen and went off to get trained by some of the great chefs of the time: Troisgros, Chapel, Haeberlin, Girardet and Bocuse. I also learnt by working alongside my grandfather. Strikingly, they all had three things in common: respect for their ingredients, rigour and imagination.

Some of the most significant moments in my life were my arrival at Baumanière in February 1969 and the death of my grandfather in 1993.

My cuisine is traditional and rooted in Provence, where the emphasis is on the quality of the ingredients and the extras aren’t allowed to mask what’s really essential.

One of the things I’m most proud of is creating a menu with all the vegetables grown on part of my organic vegetable garden.

What was your most moving culinary experience?
My first meal at Alain Chapel’s, when I was a teenager. I still remember the taste of raw wild mushrooms, which I had never eaten before.

The most amusing kitchen incident you ever witnessed?
At around 5 pm on 31 December 2001, a fire broke out in the cellar and got as far as the kitchens. We called the fire brigade, who drenched the fridges and everything we had in store for our New Year's Eve dinner in water. We had to improvise a different menu at the last minute: none of our guests noticed, but it was a narrow escape. And that’s the understatement of the year!

Your best piece of advice for amateur chefs?
Go to the market, choose the ingredients that appeal to you and cook them simply.


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