Gérald Passedat, the three-star chef of Petit Nice, Marseille, has just opened an ambitious gastronomic table near Aix-en-Provence: Louison.
Gérald Passedat is heir of the Petit Nice, a family-run establishment that celebrates its 100th anniversary this year and is the only three-star hotel in the Bouches-du-Rhône. The renowned chef has become one of the best and most radical ambassadors of the region, incorporating Mediterranean cuisine into his mostly seafood based menus, even excluding meat at Petit Nice in 1999.
After three restaurants at the Mucem (The Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations) in 2013 and the chic Albertine last year, also in Marseille, he has now opened a new gastronomic diner in Aix-en-Provence: Louison.
A spectacular five-star hotel, Villa La Coste, just inaugurated in the wine estate of the Château La Coste, is home to Passedat’s new venture. This 200 hectare estate with parkland, olive groves, truffle woods and vineyards, owned by the Irishman Patrick McKillen, is already famous for its biodynamic wine and its stunning exhibition of contemporary art and architecture.
McKillen is also one of the greatest collectors of French-American artist Louise Bourgeois: thus the name Louison for the restaurant, whilst one of her sculptures, The Couple, is suspended in the center of The dining room: two entwined figures forming a bowl of knots.
This emblematic estate in Provence, which, due to its collection of contemporary art attracts a host of foreign visitors, has inspired Passedat to veer slightly of the path he has walked in Marseille and create more earthy cuisine – but with an eye towards the sea.
Thus, on the varied menu we find: turbot carpaccio with local black truffles and caviar – a dish reminiscent of one of the more famous served at the Petit Nice -, foie gras with seaweed broth, slow-cooked catch of the day and a lightly truffled chicken with porridge oats. The wine list, of course, will feature the sublime Grand Cuvée Château La Coste wines.