Born in Versailles, Glenn Viel hails from a military family. His father, albeit a soldier, was still an avid cook, as was his grandmother, and Glenn’s passion for the culinary arts stems from his food-loving kin. After moving around the country in his childhood, living in Satory, Poitiers, Le Mans and La Réunion, he eventually settled in Saint-Quay-Portrieux, Brittany, to undertake a diploma in cooking at La Closerie. From 1998 to 2000, he continued with a vocational baccalaureate at Lycée Sainte Catherine in Le Mans before completing his internship with Joël Boillaud at the Hostellerie du Nord in Auvers-sur-Oise.
After graduating, he spent time honing his craft in some of the top kitchens in Paris, including Le Meurice under chef Marc Marchand, Plaza Athénée with Jean-François Piège and the Hyatt Madeleine. Thereafter, his work saw him traversing the globe, first moving to Morocco to take up a sous-chef position at the Hyatt Regency in Casablanca, followed by time spent in Marseille, Nice, Corsica and Courchevel. In Marseille, he attained his first Michelin star in 2008 while helming the stoves at Peron restaurant. In 2013, the second star came for his work at Kilimanjaro in Courchevel. He even spent time in Cheval Blanc Courchevel’s kitchens during the winter of 2013-2014 before he was headhunted for the role of Chef de Cuisine at l’Oustau de Baumanière.
At the time, Jean-André Charial, the grandson of the five-star hotel’s founder, was looking for a fresh face to take control of the then two- Michelin-starred kitchen. Charial, who had been at the helm of the stunning French property for fifty years, had his eyes set on attaining three stars, and Glenn was precisely the chef he had in mind to achieve this. However, Glenn was initially uninterested in the role until Charial promised the budding cook carte blanche in the kitchen. Well, mostly — Viel had to honour the spirit of Baumanière and keep some of the restaurant’s classic dishes that had forged its stellar gastronomic reputation. In particular, retaining the Alpilles roast lamb, the iconic millefeuille and the vegetable menu were non-negotiable. Glenn agreed, and in 2015, he donned his chef whites in this two-star kitchen for the first time.
Now, nine years later, l’Oustau de Baumanière has Glenn’s whole heart. Leading the kitchen with passion and pride, he creates standout cuisine that remains traditional at its core yet offers a window into Glenn’s creative side, all while championing locally sourced produce.
Always on the hunt for a new project, Viel has spearheaded various additions to Baumanière during his tenure at the estate, which holds an impressive history: it was the first Relais & Châteaux property created in France in 1945. Over and above establishing an ever growing organic vegetable garden that supplies much of the restaurant’s fresh produce, he’s also opened an educational farm onsite with chickens and pigs and has implemented a circular agricultural system where kitchen waste is used as fertiliser for the garden.
Proudly devoted to putting the environment first, the chef ’s nature forward ethos is further supported by his commitment to sourcing as close to home as possible, giving local producers and artisans a special place in his cuisine. Not only does this aid in supporting the surrounding community, but it also reduces transport distances, thereby minimising greenhouse gas emissions. The same goes for staff and their work commutes: these have been decreased thanks to the estate offering 53 affordable residences nearby. Efficient waste and plastic management are also key to l’Oustau de Baumanière’s green outlook. Dedicated to preserving Mother Earth where possible, Glenn’s efforts to reduce l’Oustau de Baumanière’s environmental impact have even been recognised by the Michelin Guide. In addition to its three-star rating, the restaurant has also been awarded with a Green star for sustainability.
Endlessly inspired by the surrounding natural world, Glenn uses this as his muse to create conscious cuisine that celebrates the Provençal terroir. Living organically is a way of life at Baumanière, where the estate’s bees produce the honey utilised in the restaurant, and the fruit from Vallée des Baux olive trees are pressed to supply the golden-hued oil used to prepare the dishes. He even makes his own butter from milk sourced from a nearby farm. This is ultra-local food, prepared with skill and rooted in respect for the land.
Underpinned by the idea of going back to the basics, Glenn’s culinary philosophy seeks to spotlight the unique flavour of each ingredient through refreshingly simple dishes. But that doesn’t mean they lack ingenuity: armed with an artful imagination, the chef conjures up the most magnificent culinary masterpieces that delight diners with every bite. Unpretentious, pure in flavour and teeming with emotion, his cuisine preserves Baumanière’s traditional spirit while adding a dash of youthful creativity.
Unique to Glenn’s dining experience is the inclusion of bread perfectly matched to each dish. Working hand in hand with the property’s baker, who’s been part of the team for five years, the duo envision distinctive loaves to complement each course. The current menu features the likes of seaweed bread, which accompanies the red mullet dish, and fig walnut country bread, which is served with the diner’s selection from the cheese trolley. Another pioneering addition to Viel’s culinary repertoire is his “seasoning pebbles”. A one-of-a-kind culinary technique that has gained international acclaim, this system uses a concentration of vegetables and shellfish, such as celery, mushrooms and langoustines, to replace salt and impart the necessary flavouring to dishes.
A show of true gastronomic talent, this seasoning revolution is a testament to Glenn’s personal philosophy: he’s a cook who wants to maximise the dynamism of his kitchen. Always pursuing perfection and originality, his mind endlessly ticks away, thinking of new ideas and dishes to improve his culinary offering. He’s not scared of taking risks or having fun either because stagnation stifles creativity — and this is something he never wants to do. His biggest inspiration comes from dreaming up a crazy idea and working to realise it on a plate. He creates food that is guided by emotion, and it’s food that he wants to make — not food he has to.
Referring to his gastronomic creations as poetry, he strips down ingredients to their bare essence to understand their meaning and then produces a dish that translates the produce’s inherent beauty and purity to the diner. By the same token, as is often true of poetic verses, not every person will understand Glenn’s vision but, instead, is given the opportunity to develop their own interpretation of the dish. And this is exactly what the chef hopes will be the case: he wants guests to arrive with no expectations or preconceived notions of the cuisine— they ought to experience it authentically, from a blank slate, for themselves.
Offering three set menus at the restaurant, “The Ballad”, “Little Hunger” and “1987 ” (vegetarian), each course tells a story. Often attached to a quirky name, which gives a glimpse of Viel’s playful personality, the creations are pared back in presentation. They are beautiful, still, but err on the side of simplicity — and for a good reason. Rather than causing a visual stir, the chef wants the taste to take centre stage — leaving the flavour to surprise the palate rather than preempting the senses and creating expectations with elaborate plating.
An inspirational leader to his kitchen brigade, Glenn equips his team with the knowledge and skills that allow them to achieve their very best every day, which is then flawlessly translated onto the plate. Loyalty, mutual respect, and trust are the guiding tenets of the restaurant and are essential to its success. With l’Oustau de Baumanière being awarded three Michelin stars since 2020 — first achieved when Glenn was just 39, making him the youngest French chef with this accolade at the time — and boasting an 18/20 rating from Gault & Millau, there’s no doubt that Glenn and his team are definitely achieving their goal of delivering the highest calibre of cuisine.
To complement the exceptional fare, the restaurant offers a sophisticated ambience. The black-and-white dining room boasts graceful round tables draped in crisp linens and adorned with stunning tableware crafted by local ceramist Cécile Cayrol and hand blown glass creations by Alban Gaillard. With its large shaded alfresco terrace facing the estate’s verdant gardens and tranquil pool, the restaurant also invites diners to enjoy gourmet moments in the heart of the serene French countryside.
A destination that brims with the quintessential Provençal charm, l’Oustau de Baumanière is where sublime cuisine coalesces with the finest wines and a breathtaking setting. A display of the pinnacle of French art de vivre, there’s no place quite like it. Timeless and transcendent, it promises unforgettable moments in abundance.
To find out more about Glenn Viel and l’Oustau de Baumanière, contact the restaurant using the below details: