Richard... Rigor, Pursuit, Feeling
With a mother who was a cook and a father who was a hunter and fisherman, I grew up in a world where the emphasis was on the product.
From that time on, I have been unwavering in my demands for the finest raw ingredients. This has become my ongoing preoccupation.
Creatively modern yet traditional, my cooking is personal and deeply felt, unaffected by trends and fads. My region, Poitou-Charentes, represents for me a cornucopia of products from the sea: oysters, mussels, langoustines, sea bass, sole, turbot, crab, lobster…
C as in Christopher
It's not surprising that these children who grew up at their parents' feet would have caught the cooking "bug"… or rather, their passion. Christopher followed the path laid out by his father. After spending a few years with some gastronomical greats - Gauzères, Bardet, Guérard, Oudill, Ferran Adria and a short stint in the family business - he decided to open the "Au Vieux Port" Restaurant with his brother, facing the towers of La Rochelle and just steps from the water. Since October 2002 Christopher has been back in the family fold but "Au Vieux Port" remains in the family, with Gregory having taken it over under a new name: "Le Comptoir du Sud."
L as in La Rochelle
Situated on the Atlantic Coast, La Rochelle is a beautiful medieval town, founded in the 10th century on a rocky shelf surrounded by marshes. Once a stopping place for sailors, it is now principally a fishing center.
M as in market
The basis of our profession. The choice of products is essential: without them our recipes would have no reason to exist. In La Rochelle we are lucky to have L'Encan, the big fish market where every morning the little boats come to unload their catch of the day. The fish are magnificent, still wriggling in their crates. With products like that, success is guaranteed!
O as in ocean
For us, this means the Atlantic: dangerous in times of rough weather, wonderful and restful on sunny days. It brings us richness and calm, providing us with the bay of La Rochelle and a view of three islands: Aix, Oléron and Ré, as well as Fort Boyard. And finally, it is the ocean that supplies all the wonderful products that we cook.
P as in path
Richard Coutanceau, destined to study accounting, gave up ledgers at age 14 to begin an apprenticeship at the Môle d'Escale, the "stopover wharf." From Roanne with the Troisgros to Eugénie les Bains with Michel Guérard, with a stop in Paris for a stint with Lenôtre… finally setting down his well-traveled suitcases to pursue his dream with his wife Maryse: to have his own restaurant, to discover delights that he can share with his customers, and to become a member of the Relais & Châteaux chain.
All of that finally became a reality, with a first star in 1980, the opening of the restaurant on the Concurrence beach in 1984, a second star in 1986 and Relais & Châteaux membership in 1987. Since then, Richard Coutanceau has been sailing the heights of local gastronomy, alone and with talent.
R as in restaurant
Aground on a bank of sand… The Concurrence beach rolls out from the foot of this beacon of local Charentais cuisine. The flavors are delicious, fresh and uncomplicated. Nothing is left to chance so that every dish sings: from the La Rochelle-style mussels to the lobster civet.
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