Travel & Gourmet

L'Oustau de Baumaniere: the place where the star chefs are born

One of the last-added to guide Michelin 3 starred restaurants of France, L'Oustau de Baumaniere is not a simple sophisticated place: one of the oldest Relais&Chateau venues has always been a point of reference to many famous chefs and a place from which many starred carriers have took their roots.
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© by Oustau de Baumaniere

To begin with, L’Oustau de Baumaniere has started as a restaurant by the late 1940s, when its first owner - Mr.Raymond Thuilier after the acquisition of the property, asked his 24 years old grandson, Jean-André Charial, if he could come and work with him in the kitchens of Oustau. Even though that some things were made and invented by Thuilier himself, his grandson has added a new into the cuisine of Oustau: previously dominantly classical and very conservative, very French a ery related to the traditions cuisine of Thuilier, thanks to Charial has become softer, “creamier” and even richer in its variety. Fresh point of view of Jean-André has permitted to the cuisine of Oustau to become more subtle and pure, with simplicity and fewer ingredients, like the legendary plate of leek and foie gras ravioli with black truffles. Even thought that some dishes of Thuilier as veal sweetbreads in puff pastry and a selection of cheeses and assorted breads are still present in the menu.

 

1954 becomes the breaking year: the restaurant was awarded with 3 Michelin stars.

But all this was the very beginning of the starry way of the chefs who were destined to shine in the kitchens of Oustau.

 

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© by Oustau de Baumaniere

In 2005 comes the first significant change: the kitchens of Oustau are now ruled by young and talented chef Sylvestre Wahid. Jean-André Charial now becomes the executive chef and whole the work around the menu and gastronomic proposal is the responsibility of Sylvestre - pupil of Thierry Marx and Alain Ducasse. Young and ambitious, having the carte blanche in his hands, he creates something new for Baumaniere: his cuisine is definitely Mediterranean but also - very comfortable, relaxed and laid-back. Sylvestre reinvents a legendary cuisine from former days combined with his new for tomorrow works exemplarily. Baumaniere steps into the future thanks to his work. Some plates become legendary as Mediterranean red mullet, tomatoes with basil and thyme flowers in a warm vinaigrette seasoned with bitter herbs.

Together with Sylvestre, here is his brother - Jonathan Wahid (champion of France of desserts in 2005) in the kitchens of Oustau in the same times, but he is responsible for the desserts as the chef patissier. In the same time, Jonathan meets Fanny Rey - a female chef who worked in Oustau with them. Time passes and while Sylvestre goes to conquer the French capital, settles down and opens his bistro Thomieux and his restaurant Sylvestre now awarded with 2 Michelin stars, Jonathan and Fanny get married and open their own restaurant - Auberge de Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, receiving their 1st Michelin star in 2017. This couple is special as he is - the chef patissier and she is - the chef of the cuisine.

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© by Oustau de Baumaniere

As soon as Sylvestre quits the kitchen of Oustau, story never ends and a new chef - Glenn Viel comes to Baumaniere in 2015. He ports completely new vision to the cuisine of Baumaniere and now it is something about the finesse, tradition, elegance & creativity. This is how Baumaniere characterizes itself its current cuisine. There might have been something magical because after 5 years of work thanks to the vision of Glenn Baumaniere gets back its 3rd Michelin star.

The reason why could also be a pastry proposal created by also young pastry chef Brandon Dehan. Awarded by the Michelin guide as Young Pastry Chef of 2019, Brandon has a truly unique style of working with vegetables and borrowing techniques from masters of savory cuisine to create desserts that emphasis on seasonal products. Brandon stresses the importance of doing new things, challenging himself, and experimenting with a range of new textures that also delight the eye.

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© by Oustau de Baumaniere

Jean-André, Sylvestre, Jonathan, Fanny, Glenn or Brandon no matter who we take as an example, but one thing is clear - Oustau de Baumaniere has its own magic: every chef who comes here becomes a new culinary star. This might be result of many factors, but it’s impossible to deny that the success of Baumaniere and all these people as a consequence is inside the trust and support in talent and the immense desire to create and evaluate daily.

 

The author Aline Borghese is an international journalist and critic of haute cuisine.

She is a graduate of the culinary schools of the Ritz Escoffier, Ecole de cuisine Alain Ducasse, La Cucina Italiana. Champagne and wine sommelier, cocktail enthusiast, gastronomic consultant and simply Bohémienne Affamée.

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