The Renaissance Aix-en-Provence Hotel has put chef Jean-Marc Banzo on the culinary center stage.
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Whisk Around the World: May 2014

Julie Mautner - May 2014

Robin Hutson’s Home Grown Hotel Group opened its fourth Pig hotel in April. Hutson calls The Pig “a restaurant with rooms”; this one is 10 minutes from Bath and 12 miles from Bristol, in Somerset, England. A redo of the Hunstrete House Hotel, the new Pig has 29 guest rooms in a Georgian-era manor house, done up in the company’s signature shabby chic style. The property has a greenhouse restaurant, a private dining room, two massage treatment rooms, a large walled kitchen garden, and a staff forager. It sits on 20 acres of woodland, with its own deer park, amidst the rolling Mendip Hills. From the outset, The Pig’s food has been garden-driven, and what can’t be grown on-site is sourced within 25 miles. The company’s head chef, James Golding, creates the menus, while the day-to-day chef is Kamil Oseka, former sous chef at The Pig in Brockenhurst. The sous chef/pastry chef is James Dodd, who was last at The Kings Arms (Gloucestershire). Hotel director Tom Ross hails from Bath and worked in the U.S. at the five-star Fearrington House Inn (Pittsboro, NC) and at the French Laundry (Yountville, CA) before returning to the U.K. in 2004. Most recently, he was operations director at the Old Bank and Old Parsonage hotels (Oxford). 

Outside Paris and the Côte d’Azur, there are few American hotel companies operating in France, let alone operating five-star properties. But the newest hotel in Aix-en-Provence is both. Marriott opened the 133 room Renaissance Aix-en-Provence Hotel, with chef Jean-Marc Banzo on the culinary center stage. A few months prior to the hotel’s opening, Banzo sold his restaurant, La Villa Madie (in Cassis), to Marielle and Dimitri Droisneau, who met while working there. (Interestingly, Villa Madie earned a second star in the 2014 Michelin Guide Rouge, just a few months after the sale.) Banzo also closed his one-star restaurant, Le Clos de la Violette (Aix), and moved part of his team to the Renaissance. Banzo now has the title chef/consultant while Pascal Consani (who worked for years at Le Clos de la Violette) is the hotel’s exec chef. The new hotel has three f&b outlets: a restaurant, a bistro, and a lounge/bar. The f&b manager is Aurélie Baldassari, who last worked at the Ritz Paris. The gm is Eric Robert, formerly director of operations at the Sofitel Legend The Grand Amsterdam.

Stéphane Mazières is the new exec chef at the Hostellerie du Castellas, a three-star, 13 room hotel in the medieval village of Collias, near Uzès, and the famous Pont du Gard, a UNESCO World Heritage site, in the Languedoc-Roussillon region. Mazières hails originally from the Charente-Maritimes region of France and comes from Le Toiny on St. Barts. Mazières replaces Jérôme Nutile, who is opening his own restaurant in nearby Nimes. In other news from Castellas, hotel owners Chantal and Raymond Aparis have just passed the torch on to their daughter Aurélie Aparis-Perrier and her husband, David Perrier, who took over direction of the 25 year old property in February.

Last month, Paris-based Michelin three-star chef Pierre Gagnaire opened the 120 seat pastry shop/cafe Choix, in the InterContinental Dubai Festival City, where he already has the restaurant Reflets. Sebastien Vauxion, pastry chef of Pierre Gagnaire (Paris), oversaw the opening, and Rodolphe Tronc, patissier at Reflets, is in charge going forward. In addition to Dubai and France, Gagnaire has ventures in Las Vegas, London, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul, Moscow, and Berlin.

Pastry chef Audrey Yee has left the Four Seasons Hotel Singapore to be exec pastry chef at the Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou, which opened in 2012. She replaces Jean-Luc Vasseur, who is now at The Ritz-Carlton Beijing. Yee hails from Wisconsin and has been in Asia for three years. At press time, her replacement in Singapore had not been named.

The Norman Hotel opened in Tel Aviv in April, with 50 rooms and two restaurants: an all-day Mediterranean brasserie, Norman, and a rooftop outpost of Dinings, the Japanese tapas spot from London. Food is also served all day in the Library Bar, reminiscent of 1940s colonial Tel Aviv. The hotel is a conversion of two historic buildings in the heart of the White City, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Israeli exec chef Barak Aharoni previously had his own restaurant, Tapas Banamal (Tel Aviv), and worked at Toto Restaurant (Tel Aviv). The f&b director, Roy Russ, was running a group of restaurants in Herzliya. Hotel gm Yaron Liberman came from the Inbal Hotel Jerusalem, having previously spent 10 years in luxury hotels in NYC and Florida.

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