I first washed up on the shores of France almost two and a half years ago to cook at the Cannes Film Festival. It was the start of a six month tour cooking my way around the country. Six months turning into eight which turned into a year which has miraculously morphed into two and a half. Don’t ask me how… The moral of this story – careful what you wish for! It might actually come true. Anyways, before we fired up our panini machines and hot plates (more on that another time), all the cooks in the group – about 24 of us – were treated to a whirlwind of excursions around Cannes and Nice.
the cooks and managers with the American Pavilion
Our second day in Cannes began with a visit to Moulin de Mougins (which means Windmill of Mougins, Mougins being the town), a restaurant renowned throughout the continent. It was run for decades by the legendary chef Roger Vergé who maintained his 3-Michelin star rating the entire time. I believe he still owns it but has turned over his whisks to a French-trained and muy caliente Spaniard, Alain Llorca who was previously the chef at Le Negresco in Nice. He received two stars but is determined to regain that elusive third star. The restaurant, and the entire property for that matter, is a beautiful old stone building from centuries ago with an antique stone olive press in the entrance.
chef Alain Llorca on the right, with his sous chef
carte de fromage
The garden dining room has glass walls etched with celebrity autographs. The great French artist and a good friend of the chef, César, finally relented after repeated requests and signed his name on a glass panel under the condition that no one else could sign on his panel. Along came Elizabeth Taylor and she of course signed on his panel. The next time César came to the restaurant he had a fit! Chef Vergé simply shrugged “It was Elizabeth Taylor…what was I to do?”
window panels with etched autographs
the restaurant gardens
César, the artist, a self-sculpture
more art in the garden
tent for amfAR gala
Moulin de Mougin is also the location for the yearly star-studded fundraiser amfAR (American Foundation for AIDS Research) held during the Cannes Film Festival that draws the likes of Elizabeth Taylor (the founding national chairman), Elton John, Liza Minelli, Sharon Stone, Natalie Cole, et al. Liza sang a song for the first time that Judy Garland had written decades ago that had never been released. Five hundred stars and a separate tent for the nearly three hundred drivers and security staff! Six cooks from our group were picked randomly to help work this event. I wasn’t picked and was so very disappointed. The people in the group that worked the event came back raving. One of the cooks shook Sharon Stone’s hand and said he could now die a happy man. Indeed!
the amuse-bouche du jour
the sous chef and line cook talking to our group
amuse plated for service
rolls baking in the oven
bread fresh out of the oven
chef Alain Llorca and moi – I could now die a happy woman