Gastronomy News Chef

Julien Le Goff: "Customers who ask for dish modifications? They must be satisfied, it’s our duty"

Alessandra Meldolesi
copertina julien le goff

"I want to create a cuisine that people return to": Julien Le Goff, chef at Le Saint-Estève, located in the shadow of Mont Sainte-Victoire immortalized by Cézanne, has clear ideas and is preparing to celebrate it in a dish. "The effort of rethinking a recipe according to the customer's needs can stimulate creativity."

The Opinion

The setting is familiar, akin to Paul Cézanne’s paintings: fully enjoyed through the large windows of the Michelin-starred restaurant Le Saint-Estève, amidst a colorful vegetal triumph of tree crowns and greenery. A small paradise dominated by the peak of Mont Sainte-Victoire, which gives its name to the hotel surrounding the restaurant, where chef Julien Le Goff is inspired by the same territory as the painter.

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The ingredients often include local products like lamb, reinterpreted in a contemporary style. Take the bouillabaisse, for example, enhanced with kumquat and Pastis, or the encyclopedic cheese cart honoring local production. Le Goff arrived after earning his first Michelin star at Mas du Langoustier on Porquerolles island in 2013, where his cuisine focused on marine elements, evolving naturally as he moved inland. "Here, it's the nature and the land of the Aix countryside that have captured and inspired me every day," he tells Food & Sens

Le Saint esteve

Le Goff describes his cuisine as understandable, respectful of the product, strictly seasonal, and ensures that every dish has its narrative thread, is delicious, without forced or extravagant pairings often seen elsewhere. He prefers traditional ragouts or the aromas of Sainte-Victoire herbs. "I want to create a cuisine that people return to," he asserts. And indeed, many guests are regulars, including families.

julien le goff piatto morganpalun

To maintain their loyalty, it's essential to frequently introduce new dishes alongside the classics. For the chef, the strength of the establishment lies in its ability to "adapt." This adaptability is why many guests return. There's also the very current issue of food intolerances, which speaks to universal accessibility. Certainly, it can be a challenge to completely or partially rethink a recipe, but it pays off when seeing guests’ satisfaction. "They recognize our efforts. Moreover, these restrictions offer young chefs the opportunity to learn to handle difficulties, work under pressure, and create something different through improvisation. Even from such circumstances, new dish ideas can arise."

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Another rule of the game is using local and seasonal products, which dictate the rhythm of creativity, as artisans need to be awaited, whether for fresh produce or aged cheeses. Next year, a somewhat unconventional dish is expected, conceived as a tribute to Cézanne, with the reopening of his house where he lived for 40 years, the Bastide du Jas de Bouffan, and his famous studio, both undergoing extensive restoration.

julien le goff piatto

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