FOURty Seconds with Nicolas Pierantoni

05 Aug 2016
4 min read
After being the sous-chef of Benoit Witz at L’Hostellerie de l’Abbaye de la Celle since 2006, Nicolas Pierantonio has now been appointed head chef by Alain Ducasse. FOUR finds out more…

What are your earliest memories of being interested in food?

My first memories in a kitchen are with my family. My mother and her mother are excellent cook and they spend a large amount of time in the kitchen, chatting and cooking. They had their own specialties and family secret cooking tips. I loved spending time with them; just watching them cooking for all the family meals. My grandmother is Italian and when I was younger I used to spend all my holidays at her house. I will never forget the smell that was coming from her kitchen.Later in time, my cousin started to study in a hotel management school; maybe it showed me the path to start my career in hospitality.

What would you say has inspired your cooking the most?

My main inspiration comes from the chef Benoit Witz.We worked together at L’Hostellerie de l’Abbaye de la Celle for more than ten years and after a while our duo was natural; we were working in a perfect harmony. His philosophy is based on generosity, authenticity, respect, sincerity and simplicity. It is important for him to share those values with our visitors through our cuisine. I feel the same way about my cuisine, it is essential to share emotions, passion and values through our profession.

I was also lucky to work with Franck Cerutti at Le Louis XV – Alain Ducasse à l’Hôtel de Paris. He taught me some specific know-how, to sharp my taste, to choose the best products at the best time and to adjust the flavours.

Describe your culinary style…

I am inspired by the products. Every season is different and has so much to offer. When I am looking for inspiration, I just take a walk in the garden of l’Hostellerie de l’Abbaye de la Celle to see what the nature has to offer at this very moment. It is also very important for me that my cuisine is “locavore”, which means that all the products that arrive in my kitchen grew less then 15km away from the inn. Consequently, I have very close relationships with all the different producers.

What would you say is the main focus/concept forAlain Ducasse’s Provençal inn, Hostellerie de l’Abbaye de La Celle?

I think the main values that L’Hostellerie de l’Abbabye de la Celle is sharing with its guests are the authenticity and conviviality. Everything is done for our clients to feelat home in a bucolic setting. We are offering an authentic Provencal cuisine to perfect their experience. It is important for my brigade and me to share it with our visitors through our cuisine.

What do you think had made the restaurant sosuccessful?

Everyone who is working for l’Hostellerie de l’Abbaye de la Celle is passionate. The producers we are working with take a very good care of their products, and they are always there to give very precious advice. Within this Alain Ducasse’s inn, everyone is dedicated to create the perfect experience for the guests. I think dedication is the key to create a unique stay for every visitor.

What are your most indispensable ingredients?

As I come from the South of France, I would say that the most important ingredients for me are olive oil and salt flower. Those two ingredients are essential to my cooking.I am also a big fan of the artichoke, I really appreciate all the different technics to prepare this vegetable:barigoule-style, fried or even raw.

What would you say has been the most memorable moment in your culinary career so far?

This is a hard question: there were so many magical moments in my career, however if I have to pick two, I would say that the first is when we got our first Michelin star in 2006. At that time I was the sous-chef of Benoit Witz and we were absolutely honored by this reward. We were very proud of our collective achievement and it strengthened our team spirit. Another memorable moment was a few months ago in 2016 when I was appointed Chef of l’Hostellerie de l’Abbaye de la Celle. I was very touched and I still can’t believe it! It is such an accomplishment for the work of this past decade.

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your younger self, starting out a career in the world of food?

Be passionate . It is necessary to enjoy being in a kitchen as well as team work. As far as I am concerned, I think that a chef should love to share and pass on his knowledge. It is crucial to be passionate but also to be aware that precision and meticulousness are key to succeed. Moreover, being a chef is about being invested in his job and always échange with the clients, the colleagues or the suppliers.

It is also very important to see different types of restaurants. For instance, it is valuable for a chef career to experience small kitchens as well as big brigades, authentic and rustic cuisine as well as Michelin star cuisine.

What’s next for you / Whatprojects do you have lined up?

To continue to deliver the best experience possible to our guests.

What is your guilty pleasure?

I love a very simple dish with some fish and home made fresh pasta, maybe because I have Italian blood. The perfect moment would be a family dinner with my wife and children, and as main dish pasta cooked as risotto with some parmesan cheese. Family times are very important to me and I love cooking with them.

What restaurant is currently at the top of your list to dine at?

My favorite restaurant is a very classic one: L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges of Paul Bocuse. It was an amazing experience as I was lucky enough to meet the Chef that night. We had a conversation and it was a big moment for me, it made my dinner even more memorable. The next restaurant I really want to try is Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée. I am very intrigued by Romain Meder’s Naturalness cuisine, centered on fish, cereals and vegetables.

L’Hostellerie de l’Abbaye de la Celle

10, Place du Général de Gaulle

83170 La Celle


+33 4 84 49 05 24