FOURty seconds with Benoit Witz

17 May 2016
2 min read
Alain Ducasse’s Provençal inn, Hostellerie de l’Abbaye de La Celle, is a jewel in France’s culinary crown. FOUR catches up with head chef Benoit Witz at the Michelin-starred restaurant to discover his food philosophy…

Describe your culinary philosophy in 5 words…

Generosity, authenticity, respect, sincerity and simplicity are the five values I keep in mind while cooking. It is important for my brigade and me to share them with our visitors through our cuisine.

How did you feel when you were awarded your first Michelin star?

It was an honour as well as a great satisfactionfor my team and I. We were very proud of our collective achievement and it strengthened our team spirit.

What is your greatest inspiration?

Nature, because every season is different from each other and has a lot to offer. Whenever I lack inspiration, I simply walk down the alleys of the garden of l’Hostellerie de l’Abbaye de la Celle or exchange ideas with my producers and my brigade.

What three things would you take to a desert island?

I see no reason for me to leave to a desert island since I live and work in such a marvelous region. (smile)

What is your first memory of being interested in food?

As a child,I visited local farms every weekend with my parents in my native region which is Alsace. I was very excited about discovering all the products that could be found in Alsace. I remember coming home with a big basket full of fresh vegetables and imagining in what way we would cook them.

What is it like having worked under the tutelage of some of the greatest French chefs of our time: Paul Bocuse and Alain Ducasse?

It was a real privilege to work for them. Paul Bocuse and Alain Ducasse have two different styles but they share a very modern vision of gastronomy. I was very proud to belong to their teams and still today they are a great source of inspiration for me. Moreover, they taught me to be perseverant and disciplined in my work.

Do you have three indispensable ingredients that you could not cook without?

I could not cook in L’Hostellerie de l’Abbaye de la Celle without salt, olive oil and Provencal herbs. If your products are fresh and of high quality, you don’t need more to create delicious dishes. I like to use them to enhance the flavour of local vegetables, which vary from one season to another.

What kind of experience do you hope to give guests dining at Hostellerie de l’Abbaye de la Celle?

Above all, I want to give them pleasure! I would like them never to forget their experience in Provence and their stay in L’Hostellerie de l’Abbaye de la Celle…

If you could take a plane ride to anywhere in the world, just for one meal, where would it be and why?

I think that I would fly home to Alsace in order to have lunch with my parents. It would remind me of my childhood and of the delightful moments we spent in the kitchen when cooking and eating together.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

In L’Hostellerie de l’Abbaye de la Celle, without a doubt!