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Relais & Châteaux Chef

Christopher Coutanceau

Chef - Relais & Châteaux

Christopher Coutanceau
Christopher Coutanceau
Member Relais & Châteaux from 1988
Plage de la Concurrence
17000 La Rochelle


Christopher Coutanceau

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Story of a Chef

I will turn 37 and since 2002 I’ve worked in the Relais & Châteaux property created by my parents. The son of a restaurateur, I was into cooking from the moment I could walk. They taught me to educate my taste buds, to respect both produce and people, and to be disciplined. I rounded off my education in major properties like Michel Guérard’s in Eugénie-les-Bains, Bardet’s in Tours, El Bulli in Rosas. Back in La Rochelle, I ran bistros on the theme of travel, in tandem with my father and my brother Grégory.Taking over the family restaurant was a dream that gradually became reality, first of all with the help of my parents, their confidence and the determination to keep on moving forward. I produce creative, tasty dishes whilst respecting local and traditional produce, treating it with the respect it merits.

Tell us about your star ingredient.

Oysters are an integral part of my environment. I remember going out to gather them when I was just three or four years old, with my grandfather holding my hand. We have been getting oysters from Papin- Poget in the Marennes Oléron region for more than 35 years. Today I work with Yves Papin’s daughter and also with Anthony Rousseau in L’Houmeau – two oyster farmers who are true artists. Sorted one by one, their spéciale and fine de claire oysters have won many awards. The spéciales are very crisp. The ones from Marennes Oléron have a nutty, creamy oceanic flavor and a lovely, glossy green sheen. I like to serve them barely warm or cubed in a tartare for a region gustatory pleasure.