For nearly two decades, chef Christophe Cussac has been tantalising guests’ taste buds at Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo with his exquisite culinary creations. Now, after a remarkable career leading two-Michelin-starred establishments, the celebrated chef has embarked on an exciting new chapter with the unveiling of his latest gastronomic venture: Les Ambassadeurs by Christophe Cussac, which opened its doors at the hotel in late June.
Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo, a timeless haven of luxury, has been a magnet for the international elite since its inauguration in 1886, with its iconic Belle Époque façade cementing its status as one of the most sought-after establishments on the enchanting French Riviera. Back in the 1920s, the hotel introduced the illustrious restaurant “Les Ambassadeurs”, which swiftly became an emblematic destination for French gastronomy, playing host to aristocrats and diplomats from across the globe who sought the epitome of refined luxury.
Drawing inspiration from this storied legacy, chef Christophe Cussac has chosen to pay homage to the past with his remarkable new restaurant. The menu at Les Ambassadeurs showcases a fusion of contemporary Mediterranean cuisine, masterfully crafted with influences from the chef’s own culinary heritage. As guests step into the redesigned interiors by renowned French architect and interior designer Jacques Garcia, they will embark on a sensory journey where flavours of the Mediterranean are brought to life through the pinnacle of French culinary artistry.
In celebration of this momentous occasion, FOUR sat down with Christophe Cussac to find out more about his passions, inspirations and vision for the new Les Ambassadeurs restaurant.
Tell us more about your background…
I was raised in hospitality. I was fortunate to learn everything from my parents, who owned a Relais & Chateau property in Bourgogne. It was fascinating to watch my parents build a successful business; they were truly masters of their craft. My father taught me the basics when I was a teenager, and my passion for food grew from there.
Tell us a bit about your culinary career up until this point, including any studies or experience you gained and where…
I was in a unique position where I had significant first-hand experience from a young age but didn’t have professional training. So, I decided to study at the Ecole Hotelière Jean Drouant in Paris for two years, as well as do a short stint at the Royal Monceau. After my official training, I became a Kitchen Secretary at Concorde Lafayette, which was run by Joël Robuchon. This was a new role within the restaurant, specially created for me. Working for Mr Robuchon really changed the trajectory of my career. Watching him run his kitchen, cook, and create innovative menus is the reason I worked for him as long as I did. He was truly an inspiration. After Concorde Lafayette, I followed him to Nikko Hotel to work at Les Célébrités restaurant. This was the first time the Michelin Guide awarded a hotel restaurant with two stars.
Following Les Célébrités, I continued to work with Joël Robuchon at three Michelin-starred-restaurant Jamin. These years were fundamental to me. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but it was there it all clicked; the love of cooking was born… it was more than a job. I took all the experience and what I had learned over the years to head up my own restaurant at Abbaye Saint-Michel. It was a family business, and within two years, it was awarded two Michelin stars. It was a very proud moment for me.
In 2004, I received a call from my long-time mentor, Joël Robuchon, who had just opened a new restaurant at Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo and wanted me to head it up. After three years, we received two Michelin stars.
Who would you say was the most significant chef that impacted your culinary philosophy?
Without a doubt, working for Joël Robuchon. He was my mentor, my master, who taught me how to cook at the highest level. At the beginning of my career, he decided to send me to train and learn not only fundamental cooking skills but pastry as well. Typically, chefs in the top kitchens do not do pastry; however, he advised that it would be useful for me later on. He was right, of course.
What food and principles are most significant in your cuisine now?
Mediterranean cuisine. I am inspired by the region where I have settled and live now. We are blessed with an abundance of incredible ingredients; I am inspired by the smells and produce I am surrounded by. I have also learned to simplify, to go straight to the products without complicating them. My goal is that when someone tastes my cooking, they immediately understand and remember it. That’s my purpose: keep it simple, but above all, it has to taste good too.
Tell us more about the opening of your new restaurant and its significance…
Having had such an instrumental role behind the scenes, I now stand in the spotlight to unveil the launch of my own restaurant, Les Ambassadeurs by Christophe Cussac, giving us an opportunity to revive the acclaimed cult venue of the 1920s.
What is the décor like at the restaurant?
We worked with the renowned architect-decorator Jacques Garcia for the new design, which is sleek and modern with an open-plan kitchen facing the dining room. The Garcia style accompanies the spirit of the new menu with luminous tones: bronze, ivory, luminous yellow, and gold, for a warm and Mediterranean spirit, creating a fresh and welcoming atmosphere.
One of the hottest seats in the restaurant is at the Chef’s Counter, where guests will be fully immersed in my culinary world. There will no longer be that distance, that separation between the clientele and the activity of the chefs. With a 360° view of the kitchen, guests will have an opportunity to see up close how we work. I believe this experience is one of the hotel’s most unique offerings.
Tell us more about some of the exciting food experiences guests can look forward to…
A Made in Metropole Bread Trolley. At the restaurant Les Ambassadeurs by Christophe Cussac, the bread trolley is an essential ritual and a feature of each service.
Each day, six bakers demonstrate their talent in the wings of the Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo. Committed to work well done and respect for the great French tradition, they make all kinds of bread for the gastronomic restaurant. From a crisp “baguette” to a soft “focaccia au pesto” or bread made with milk and squid ink, the mahogany bread trolley, expertly staged by the Head Waiter, abounds with magnificent flavours. Guests are invited to yield to temptation and discover new offerings which continue to surprise the most discerning gourmets.
Pastry Chef Patrick and his talented team then add a touch of sweetness to an irresistible dessert trolley proposing tarts made with seasonal fruit but also tasty treats such as chocolate mousse and a rum baba, which will leave long-lasting memories among diners at the restaurant Les Ambassadeurs by Christophe Cussac. So many gems to taste and relish, moments of bliss for our guests…
What memories/sensations are you hoping diners will leave with?
The memory of an amazing meal/dish that our guests will remember and wish to come back.
What inspires you most when cooking and thinking of dishes?
My fondest memories are the meals shared with my family around my mother’s kitchen; those are privileged moments that are always a source of inspiration and motivation.
Do you have any favourite ingredients to use?
Saffron is a beautiful ingredient to me. It is synonymous with paella, bouillabaisse, ratatouille… Mediterranean cuisine is tinted with this unique spice that brings out a special flavour, colour and aroma to a dish.
I think food should stay simple and kept to three flavours. The number three brings harmony, and three flavours are always what I aim for. The three elements should go well together, must be balanced, and you should feel the three tastes in one mouthful. Perfect association and balance are what make a dish extraordinary.
Tell us more about the menu at the new restaurant and its highlights…
The menu is clear and straightforward, showcasing the very best of the Mediterranean. My signature dish of fresh sardines with preserved lemon and tangy foam will be a highlight. As well as caviar risotto, it’s simple but packed with flavour. Other dishes include gamberoni with a spring salad and marinated burrata; lobster in a transparent tarragon lasagne; golden John Dory with spiny artichokes and a fine fresh herb broth; and a veal chop with asparagus. Of course, the desserts are fresh and relevant to the seasons: the soufflé pancake with wild strawberries or the caramelised puff pastry with a light vanilla cream.
How do you hope that Les Ambassadeurs will add to the guest’s experience at the Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo as a whole?
Food is truly one of the winning factors for most hotels. Our restaurants: Odyssey, Yoshi and Les Ambassadeurs by Christophe Cussac (including room service) and the Lobby Bar, offer an amazing culinary experience. Our international clientele travel everywhere around the world and expect the best in terms of service. As a whole, they also expect to find five-star gastronomic cuisine that they can experience from us.
To find out more about Les Ambassadeurs by Christophe Cussac and book, contact the hotel using the below details:
Les Ambassadeurs by Christophe Cussac
Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo
4 Avenue de la Madone
BP 19 – MC 98007
Tel: +377 93 15 15 10