You’re English and yet you have chosen to live in France. Tell us about your career path?

Ever since my childhood, I wanted to work in the restaurant industry.
At the age of 12, during my summer holidays, I worked in the kitchen of a restaurant in my home town of Saint-Ives in Cornwall in England.
At the age of 16, I chose to enrol in the hotel and catering school of my region. I knew that there was an option to spend the third year in France, which was a country that I was unfamiliar with at the time.
I arrived in Paris when I was 18 for a year of language immersion divided into six months of studies as part of my course, and a six month internship at Sofitel Paris La Defense. At the end of my traineeship with Accor, I was offered a permanent position at the Sofitel Paris La Defense. I was in Paris, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Why go back to the university in England?
Twenty-three years later, having worked at the Sofitel in Geneva (two years), the Royal in Evian (nine years), the ‘Fermes de Marie’ in Megève (three years) and with Emmanuel Renaut at the ‘Flocons de Sel’ (two years) in Megève also, I am still in France and I am still enjoying my job as much as ever.

Vue l'Hôtel Casadelmar
Having been at the opening of Casadelmar in 2004, you left and then returned! Why?

Indeed, I left at the end of the 2008 season, after five very enjoyable and very intense years. I had received several offers on the continent, and I thought that the time had come to take on a new challenge. So I left to join ‘Les Fermes de Marie’ in Megève. I learnt a lot working for the Sibuet family at ‘Les Fermes de Marie’: the warmth of their hospitality and the discovery of their concept in particular… and then there was the discipline of the ‘Meilleur Ouvrier de France’ prize winner, Emmanuel Renaut, and his three Michelin stars at the ‘Flocons de Sel in Megève. However, the five years I had spent at Casadelmar had left an indelible mark on my heart. At the time, it was Jean-Noël Marcellesi, through Gianluca Bertilaccio, the managing director, who had placed his trust in me at the opening of Casadelmar. During a visit to Porto-Vecchio with my children in August 2013 and a lunch at the Casadelmar beach, Jean-Noël Marcellesi made me an offer to return as deputy director. The former chef was leaving and Fabio Bragagnolo was going to be promoted to the take on the kitchen. Consequently, I was faced with a new challenge at a legendary hotel and the idea of completing some unfinished work drove me to accept.

How would you describe the philosophy of the hotel? Is this reflected in the dishes?

Luxury, exclusivity and the ‘Service with a smile’ mindset, as they say in my country. Authentic contemporary surroundings that are uncomplicated yet complex in the architecture, the interior decoration and, of course, the menu. The food served by Fabio Bragagnolo has marked a return to a more straightforward menu, with the very best available core products.

Vue l'Hôtel Casadelmar
What are the strong points of Casadelmar? How would you define a Palace?

It would have to be the location, with its gorgeous view, as well as the staff. A hotel is always in need of a soul. This is provided by the people involved, as well as the occasional seasonal staff who work for one or even two seasons, who ensure that our customers enjoy an exceptional stay. For me a luxury hotel is much more than simply the size of the rooms, the plasma screens and the Michelin star restaurant. A luxury hotel must have impeccable service and this is where the staff make the difference. Increasingly, we must anticipate the needs of our customers, who expect exceptional standards. Whether it is the bouquet of rare flowers, the highly sought-after bottle of wine or the helicopter flight to make a marriage proposal, we have to be able to respond to any request. This is what defines a luxury hotel.

The fine food restaurant lost its second Michelin star in 2014only to get it back in 2015. Why was this?

The withdrawal of a star in 2014, which was probably due to the departure of the former chief, was, in our opinion, an expected outcome.
With Fabio Bragagnolo, although excellence is still at the heart of what this kitchen is about, ‘the church has returned to the centre of the village’ with a more familiar menu, which seeks to surprise our customers rather than baffle them. This decision has proved to be a successful choice since the second Michelin star was restored to us this year, which occurs only very rarely.

Vue l'Hôtel Casadelmar
What are the dishes which have left a mark on you?

I like to go to the restaurant in order to put myself in the customer’s shoes. I have been lucky enough to go to many major restaurants. I do not really have a favourite dish but some have left an indelible mark on me: Mr Paul Bocuse’s VGE soup, the vegetable ‘gargouille’ by Michel Bras or the Fera of Lake Geneva by Emmanuel Renaut, to mention only the 3-Michelin-star chefs.
Currently, on the menu of the Casadelmar, the ‘fish, crustacean and seafood’ starter by Fabio Bragagnolo deserves its place in this category.

Hôtel CASADELMAR *****

Route de Palombaggia
20137 Porto-Vecchio
T. +33 (0)4 95 72 34 34

Hôtel CASADELMAR *****

Route de Palombaggia
20137 Porto-Vecchio
T. +33 (0)4 95 72 34 34