My grandfather, Germain Passédat purchased Villa Corinthe in 1917, and immediately renamed it Le Petit Nice. My grandmother, Lucie, an opera singer who became the muse of Louis Lumière, passed on to my father, Jean-Paul, and then to me, a passion for fine things, a sense of rhythm and a love for a job well done.
After training at hotel management school, then at Le Coq Hardi in Bougival, at Le Bristol, then at Le Crillon in Paris, eighteen months at Troisgros, and then a year with Michel Guérard, I came back to work with my father in 1984, and little by little I took charge of Le Petit Nice. Still a bit of a passionate rebel.
I am under no illusions about how much I love the Mediterranean. My approach to cuisine? I was looking in the all the wrong places for what was right under my nose: forgotten fish which could be caught right there in the seas in front of me. The sensation of the ocean depths, a few vegetables ripened in Provence, a few herbs. A loving respect for what is natural and simplicity in how it is prepared to give that delicious feeling of being immersed in the Mediterranean sea.
What was your most moving culinary experience?
A nage of seafood at Chapel’s restaurant with my parents in 1975.
And, in 1980, Jean Troisgros’ Fleurie sauce lightly spiced with anchovies. A revelation as these ingredients had never been combined before. The most amusing kitchen incident you ever witnessed?
In 1983 with a whole team of cooks – Jean-Michel Lorain
, Christophe Cussac, Michel Troisgros
– I prepared, live, on one of the major US networks, a caramelised red fruit soup. During the broadcast, I prepared the caramel with a blow torch live on TV, there was a flame a foot long! I was concentrating on my English, at the expense of the recipe. Then I whipped one I’d prepared earlier out of the drawer. Everyone burst into laughter. A great memory!Your best piece of advice for amateur chefs?
Follow your instincts at the market and prepare what takes your fancy with your family. Have fun doing so.