Franck Cerutti, deeply attached to his Niçois and Italian roots

Executive chef at Alain Ducasse's Louis XV in Monaco's Hôtel de Paris, Franck Cerutti still resides in his hometown of Nice. Having worked side by side with the great French chef since 1980, he plays a role in the adventures of the Alain Ducasse enterprise and creates, from the Principality, a generous, sun-flavoured cuisine inspired by the seasons and fresh market produce.

What made you want to start your career in the kitchen?

It was a love of the countryside and its produce. At 14 years old, I wanted to be either a farmer or a chef. By becoming a chef, I've been able to preserve ties with the producers, and with earth's produce.

What is your philosophy in the kitchen?

I want products to taste like what they are. I try to pass on my love for these ingredients through a cuisine that is essential, obvious: the best produce at the best time in the season.

Where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration in each living moment, and think about products, or recipes, without even knowing it. I find inspiration when I'm exchanging with producers at the market. I worked four years in Italy, and I am also influenced by this second culture, which helps me create a truly well rounded Mediterranean cuisine.

What role do the seasons play in your cuisine?

The seasons are paramount! In France and other European countries, we are lucky to have four veritable seasons, which keeps me from falling into a routine. I can make recipes evolve around the produce.

What products or specialties would you like to introduce to someone coming to France for the first time?

That depends on which month they visit France. Globally, however, I would like them to discover the specialties and products of my region, the French Riviera, which includes mainly vegetables and citrus fruit like courgettes trompettes (an elongated zucchini), artichauts épineux (prickly artichoke), and tomatoes. They must try the pissaladière (a flat open-face tart garnished with onions, olives, anchovies), raviolis and barbagians, a traditionnal pumpkin-based recipe from Monaco.

Tell us about your region.

The French Riviera abounds with nature, nestled between the sea, the mountains and their 3000-metre summits. The clement climate helps in cultivating a variety of beautiful, delicious produce, and being so close to Italy, the region thrives under the influence of both cultures.