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 🙂

Moulin de Mougins
Notre Dame de Vie
06250 Mougins, France
Tel: +33(0)4 93 75 78 24
Fax:+33(0)4 93 90 18 55

Moulin de Mougins 12 August,2006Cucina Testa Rossa


Cucina Testa Rossa

After a decade in Silicon Valley, Laura traded her keyboard for a cutting board and moved to New York City to immerse herself in food and wine studies and restaurant operations. She graduated from the French Culinary Institute where she studied under Master Chefs Jacques PĂ©pin, AndrĂ© Soltner, Alain Sailhac, and Master Sommelier Andrea Immer. While in New York, Laura cooked with some of the world’s most highly acclaimed chefs including Mario Lohninger (Danube), Morimoto, Mark Franz & Emily Luchetti (Farallon), Michael Romano (Union Square CafĂ©), Mario Batali, Marcella Hazan, Jonathan Cartwright (White Barn Inn), Martin Heierling (Bellagio), Dave Pasternack (Esca), Richard Reddington (Redd, Auberge du Soleil), and the legendary Alice Waters (Chez Panisse).

After working as the Back Kitchen Chef of Jacques PĂ©pin’s PBS cooking show, “Fast Food, My Way”, Laura moved to France to cook her way around the country. She cooked at the Cannes Film Festival, then to the northwest corner of France, to Britanny, to cook on a lobster boat, then east to Paris to the world famous Pierre HermĂ© Patisserie where she made thousands of his macarons every day! Laura cooked for the fabulous Olivia de Havilland and interned at 3 Michelin Star Le Cinq under Chef Philippe Legendre and Pastry Chef Fabrice Lecleir. Laura was the executive chef and cooking instructor at the DaVinci Code chateau outside of Paris where she was on set during the filming of the movie.

In Fall 2007, Laura worked on Jacques Pepin’s most recent PBS television series as prop and food stylist. “More Fast Food, My Way” should air in the Spring of 2008. “My Keyboard for a Cutting Board ~ Adventures in a French kitchen v1.0”, Laura’s first book highlights her first three months cooking in France, was published in Summer 2006. ConvivialitĂ© is her second book and will hopefully be published in the fall.

Laura now splits her time between Paris and the San Francisco Bay Area doing private chefing, teaching cooking classes and leading market tours when in Paris. Bon Appetit!

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