France, a country where hundreds of thousands of bottles of red wine are distributed to all over the world every second, is the home of haute and traditional cuisine. Here, you can taste different kinds of cheese every day throughout the year. Among all the cities in France, Saint Tropez, the glamorous luxurious resort situated in the south of France, is the host of a range of world-class restaurants. The chef of the prestigious restaurant La Vague d’Or – Arnaud Donckele has kept performing the best after receiving his Michelin three stars in 2013. Let’s peak into the chef’s life and his cuisine idea.
Arnaud Donckele, chef of « La Vague d’Or » wins a third Michelin Guide 2013.
The 2013 edition of the Michelin Guide awarded Arnaud Donckele, chef at the Résidence de la Pinède in Saint-Tropez, a truly unique third star that will surely open the doors for this 35-year-old Rouen born talent into the haven of international gastronomy. This represents a one-of-a-kind recognition for this virtuous oven-cooking fan, two years after receiving his second star at the Saint-Tropez establishment. Arnaud Donckele conjugates lucidity, creativity and maturity in perfect harmony, in his art and working method.
The itinerary of a man in a hurry
A hard worker, always seeking to please the exclusive palate of his patrons at La Vague D’or, Arnaud Donckele is all generosity:« To give it all, every day, constantly ». This motto may just be the explanation for this recognition from the red guide. Representing a new generation, the chef displays humility and wisdom, always paying tribute to those who marked his career.
His apprenticeship at Gourmand-Prunier in Paris was the stepping stone towards the great maisons: Michel Guérard at Eugénie-les-Bains in 1998, Alain Ducasse at the Louis XV (Monaco) in 1999, the Plaza Athénée (Paris) in 2000, and Lasserre, where he quickly became the right arm of chef Jean-Louis Nomicos.
With strong and eclectic experience, an open spirit and great sensitivity towards cultural variety, as well as a deep respect for land and small producers, Arnaud Donckele began working in 2005 at the Residence de la Pinède, and he is now harvesting the results of so many years of effort and hard work. His success is not only due to his talent, know-how and the originality he gives to the Mediterranean dishes he prepares, but also because he was able to bring the Delion family – the owners – closer together with 21 cooks and pastry chefs, along with chef Guillaume Gaudin, who has worked by his side since the age of 20, and Thierry Di Tullio, restaurant manager.
Carte blanche on the Saint Tropez gulf
After being the Michelin three-star chef, where will he go next? How could one continue exploring culinary possibilities and open new ones, surprising gourmet palates without taking them out of their comfort zone? « Cooking is not maths; it is a gesture of kindness and generosity. One must only think of the stars, the client’s satisfaction being the ultimate goal. The patron must leave the restaurant with an unforgettable memory ».
A midsummer night’s dream, born in the gulf of Saint Tropez, from a « Léiume en Boui-Abaisso » (seasonal vegetable steamed with green orange rim and bay leaves, chicken cooked in a rustic «Mona Lisa » broth infused with saffron); the « Agneau de Sisteron » in two servings (first serving: saddle of lamb with thyme, juice infused with argan oil, Sicilian eggplant and sweet tomato and onion marmalade. Second serving: trotter, shoulder to be eaten with a spoon, sweetbreads and kidneys, vivacity and a spicy and savory sauce with pimientos-sarriette) and delicious sweet treats created by Guillaume Gaudin « Autour de la pomme de Manosque ravivée au combava (3) » (warm soufflé with a freshly prepared sauce).
Follow your heart, put your soul into your work
“I change my dishes once I have found a better idea, an emotion left unattended. Some may need three or four years to mature. Listening to our clients is essential, and it helps us evolve. One must pay attention to criticism and benefit from it”. Arnaud Donckele assures that he has relied on regularity and hard work, but has nevertheless always looked at the moon to reach the stars…
Image and content provided by Restaurant La Vague d’Or