The gastronomic concept of ‘locavore’ means sourcing ingredients from your immediate surroundings, never going further afield than a radius of 250km for one’s kitchen produce, and keeping things seasonal, handpicked and local. This is the creative and responsible philosophy behind Michelin-starred restaurant Les Bacchanales in Vence, on the French Riviera, owned by chef Christophe Dufau.
Born in the idyllic village of Draguignan, close to St Tropez, Dufau always dreamed of owning a Côte d’Azur restaurant that would serve a discerning international clientele. ‘My first memories are of cooking with my grandmother,’ says Dufau. ‘She would come in from the garden having pulled herbs and vegetables from the ground, and create something wonderful from whatever she had collected.’ On a mission to replicate the halcyon days of his family kitchen, Dufau spends his spare time diving for seaweed, foraging for flowers and leaves in the country, or tending the 25-variety herb garden behind his restaurant.
The produce informs the creation of the chef’s beautifully minimal dishes, such as spicy crawfish and melon, grouper with apricot purée, and medlars with garden-fresh pink berries. Flavours are deceptively complex but never overly technical. ‘It’s my version of nice cooking,’ he shrugs. ‘I like to keep things simple.’