Jérôme Nutile: home at last by Carole Rommene

Jerome Nutile 1There is nothing better than the sweet feeling of being truly at home. For Jérôme Nutile, one of our region’s most acclaimed chefs and Meilleur Ouvrier de France, that feeling will be no doubt treasured. After years of success at the Castellas in Collias, where his talent was rewarded by two Michelin stars, he has now opened his own restaurant at Mas de Baudan in Nîmes. Laurence and I went to meet him to discover what the buzz was all about.

Located in the Parc George Besse in Nîmes, the Mas de Baudan is a 300 year old provençal mas that has been completely renovated and transformed to Mr Nutile’s requirements. He fell in love with the place in 2009 and the idea started rooting. “I had a real coup de coeur for this old building a few years ago but I had to wait for my ideas to come to fruition and the works started in 2014”, he explains.

 

Two-in-One

Mas de Baudan is divided into two very distinctive parts: on one side, the relaxed bistro eatery, named Bistr’AU, while the other side of the property is dedicated to a more formal gastronomic restaurant. The bistro certainly has the wow factor. Looking at the modern and bright décor, you might think you’re just in any trendy restaurant. But try the food on your plate and there’s no mistake who is behind the cooker. The food is light, subtle and elegant. It melts in your mouth and leaves you completely satisfied.

 

An honest experience

The 44 year-old chef wanted the bistro to be a very "honest" experience for his guests. The open kitchen allows you to take a peek at the folklore of a real kitchen – a bit like Gordon Ramsay in his Kitchen Nightmares but without the swearing and the nervous body gestures. As Mr Nutile explains, the idea is a "no surprise" concept. "When people come to my restaurant," he says, "I want them to know exactly what they’re going to spend. There is no cheating; I wanted the kitchen to be open so that people could see exactly how their meal is prepared. The meat is cooked on the spot on a wood fireplace to give it a traditional taste; the ingredients are fresh and simple."

Jerome Nutile 3The lunch menu is surprisingly good value for money for a chef of Mr Nutile’s reputation: 22€ for a three course meal, which changes every day to ensure freshness and variety. The wine is equally affordable; a local Côtes du Rhône, Costières de Nîmes or Duché d’Uzès starts at just 3€ a glass. Every detail has been cleverly planned in this made-to- measure kitchen, from the bespoke stove to the meat-maturing room.

"The only way we can afford to offer such good prices in the bistro is by buying meat in bulks, by bringing in whole carcasses and having it matured here in our own premises," explains Jérôme Nutile.

 

A gastronomic adventure

The gastronomic restaurant, is a strong contrast to the modernity and the look of the bistro. Old stone walls and arched ceilings give it a traditional and intimate atmosphere. The chef explains: “I wanted lots of space, my wish is that people who come and dine here can breathe, be comfortable and enjoy a moment of total relaxation.” He also promises a “haute couture cuisine, both contemporary and precise.” To make the experience even more enjoyable, or for those with a penchant for good wine, the building also includes four luxurious bedrooms, including a suite.

Jérôme Nutile might be going solo, but he has the full support of his wife Martine and his two sons, Alexandre and Ugo, whose initials he has used in the Bistr’AU name. He can also rely on his loyal team, which he has kept and “wants to pay tribute to” as they play a very important part in his life and his success.

Martine Nutile was telling me that their younger son once said to his father: "Daddy, you have two stars, it’s good; but when I’m older, I’ll have three!" Whether this happens remains to be seen but passion seems to be running in the family and at least, Nutile Junior will learn from the best.

 

Jerome Nutile 2Jérôme Nutile – a short bio

Originally from Alès, Jérôme Nutile starts his career at l’Abbaye de Sainte Croix (one Michelin star) under the orders of chef Pascal Morel. He then moves to the Chabichou (two stars) in the select ski resort of Courchevel before moving to Urugay at the Punta del Este. In 2000, Jérôme returns to his home country as sous-chef for Georges Blanc (three stars) in Vonnas, in the heart of the Bresse region for four years. At the age of 35, he then comes back to his roots at the beautiful family-run hotel Le Castellas in the heart of Collias, near the Pont-du-Gard, where he obtains his first Michelin star in 2006, followed by another in 2009. In 2011, he becomes "Meilleur Ouvrier de France"*, a wonderful accolade for this passionate chef.

*Meilleur Ouvrier de France or MOF: title given each year by the French President to the best master artisans in various professional categories.

Mas de Boudan - Le Bistr’AU, 351 Chemin Bas du Mas de Boudan, 30000 Nîmes 04 66 40 60 75 www.jerome-nutile.com