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Whisk Around the World: June 2014

Julie Mautner - June 2014

Yannick Franques has been named exec chef at Terre Blanche, the five-star resort in Tourrettes, in the Var region of Provence, about 45 minutes northwest of Cannes. The property opened in 2004 and was formerly the Four Seasons Resort Provence at Terre Blanche. Franques hails from Paris, became a Meilleur Ouvrier de France in 2004, and has worked for a slew of Michelin two- and three-star chefs, including Christian Constant, Alain Ducasse, and Éric Fréchon. He joined the Château Saint Martin and Spa in Vence in 2008, earning his first star in 2009 and his second the following year. Franques describes his cuisine as “bourgeoise Provençale” and says he’ll bring a more regional touch to Terre Blanche’s restaurant, Faventia. The resort gm, Gilles Fouilleroux, says Franques’ appointment will help usher in “a gastronomic excellence on par with the rest of the resort.” Terre Blanche has 115 suites and villas, two championship golf courses, and a luxe spa on a 300 hectare property once co-owned by Sean Connery.

Michelin-starred chef/restaurateur Jason Atherton unveiled City Social on the 24th floor of the skyscraper Tower 42 last month. The 90 seat dining room features deco interiors and a dramatic open kitchen against a backdrop of the London skyline (with the buildings known as the Gherkin and the Cheesegrater front and center). The head chef, Paul Walsh (previously sous chef at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay on Royal Hospital Road), worked closely with Atherton on the menu, which features top British ingredients. The bar seats 85 and promotes Prohibition-era cocktails. The sommelier is Christopher Delalonde, and the gm is Andy Downton. Atherton’s collection of five London restaurants comprises the Michelin-starred Social Eating House, Little Social, Pollen Street Social, and the recently opened Berners Tavern in The London Edition Hotel. The new restaurant is a joint venture between Atherton and Restaurant Associates, part of Compass Group UK & Ireland.

The Shangri-La Hotel, At the Shard opened in the 72 story Shard building on the South Bank of the Thames last month. With 202 rooms on levels 34 to 52, it’s the first high-rise hotel in London and the tallest hotel in western Europe. The contemporary interiors complement Renzo Piano’s architecture; north-facing rooms offer views of iconic landmarks such as St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge, and the Houses of Parliament. Thanks to the Shard’s shape, each room has a different layout and design. The hotel has three f&b venues, including the signature restaurant/lounge TÎNG; an artisan deli, LÁNG; and a bar called GŎNG, which opens on level 52 in July. The hotel’s exec chef is Emil Minev, who’s been with Shangri-La three years, in Tokyo and the Maldives. The f&b director is Nicholas Liang, last at Shangri-La’s China World Summit Wing (Beijing) and the Island Shangri-La (Hong Kong). The gm/exec vp is Darren Gearing, who moved over from the Island Shangri-La. Rooms start at £450 ($733) per night.

Following the success of their Bonnie Gull Seafood Shack in Fitzrovia, Alex Hunter and Danny Clancy opened Bonnie Gull Seafood Cafe in late April in the Exmouth Market in Clerkenwell. Offering dine-in and take-out, this unit is bigger (82 seats compared with 42) and has a more informal, 1960s British seaside feel. The exec chef is Luke Robinson, who was last at Citrus in Umbria, Italy. The menu, based on fresh, sustainable British seafood, includes “shells” (oysters, cockles, smoked mussels, langoustines), “rolls” (fish finger sandwiches, lobster rolls, crab rolls), a daily catch, Channel salt ‘n’ pepper squid, “Smash Your Own” (a one-kilo flame-grilled cock crab), and Mum’s Pilchards: sardines poached in tomato sauce, herbs, and garlic, then grilled on sourdough beef dripping toast (a dish that the chef loved as a child). For dessert, there’s Mr. Whippy ice cream, bags of Cornish fudge, and “proper puddings,” such as Millionaire shortbread with candied hazelnuts and milk ice cream.

InterContinental Hotels Group opened the Hotel Indigo Madrid—Gran Via in April. The name refers to the vibrant street Gran Via, which dates to 1910 and is the city’s center for fashion, nightlife, and more. The new hotel is the brand’s second property in Spain, following the one in Barcelona, which opened in 2012. It has 85 rooms on 13 floors and a rooftop terrace. Indigo hotels are designed to reflect their surroundings, and no two look alike. The 50 seat restaurant, Andrea Tumbarello, is named for the hotel’s culinary consultant, while the exec chef overseeing it—along with the 30 seat Gastrobar—is Julio López Escobar. The hotel’s f&b director is Jesús Cobo Alonso, formerly restaurant director at La Broche, a Michelin two-star in the Hotel Miguel Angel (Madrid). The hotel gm is Rafael Ramirez Calle. IHG has 15 Hotel Indigo locations in its European pipeline; the next to open will be Hotel Indigo Paris—Opera, in late 2014. 

The London-based Grace Hotels opened its first property in Central America, Grace Panama, in late March. It occupies the ground floor plus six upper floors of the newly constructed Twist Tower, an office/hotel complex in the upscale Obarrio district of Panama City. The 60 rooms and suites may be personalized with preferred pillow type (five choices), room fragrance, luxury bath amenities, and minibar selection. An indoor-outdoor fine-dining restaurant called 54EAST serves Mediterranean cuisine, while The Bar offers unique cocktails and tapas and the poolside bistro has gourmet soups, salads, and sandwiches. The exec chef/f&b director is Pedro Masoliver, who previously had Casa Masoliver (Panama). Rooms begin at $125, including Champagne breakfast.

Blue Residences, an upscale condo resort on Aruba’s Eagle Beach, debuted its first tower this spring. A second opens in September; a third, in spring 2015. When complete, the resort will have 124 units with as many as five bedrooms each, all with unobstructed ocean views. The exec chef of Blue Residences is Urvin Croes, and in his restaurant, The Kitchen Table by White Modern Cuisine (opening July 1), he and his team will prepare a nine course menu nightly for just 14 reservations and four walk-ins. Croes also owns White Modern Cuisine, a fine dining restaurant on Aruba’s Palm Beach. Blue Residences has in addition the Frangipani Bar (opened mid-May) for breakfast and lunch and El Mirador (opening July 1) for drinks, tapas, and sunsets. All restaurants are open to the public.

Edited by Julie Mautner. Send your international f&b news to her at