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by Margaux Cintrano
CHEF JULIÉN DIAZ: SIMPLICITY, PRECISION & ORIGINALITY
Hotel Spa Chez Charles
Michelin 1 Star
Route de Calvi
Lumio, Corsica, France 20260
With a totally evolutionary vanguard cuisine, this one of a kind genius and polyglot, Marseille native Chef Julién Diaz, with his unique Mediterranean trilogy of ascendency. Julién was born and raised in the city of Marseille, France, close to the stadium, Stade Vendrome. Julien´s Mediterranean trilogy includes his maternal grandmother of Italian ascendency and his paternal Spanish grandfather who hails from Cartagena, Murcia.
To date, Chef Julién is one of the most relevant and extraordinarily talented young chefs on the gastronomic front in France.
Additionally, he has been conjuring up exquisite epicurism with the enchantment of local Corsican products, from the land and the sea, at the beautiful Hotel Spa Chez Charles in Corsica. He draws upon the essences of fresh quality local raw materials and integrates his passion for the culinary arts through simplicity, precision, originality and excellent technical skills in his craft.
The infusion of the Mediterranean traditional flavors of France and Italy has met on this impeccably heavenly island. Possessing a rugged landscape, yet its nickname, I´île de Beauté, symbolizes the beautiful island.
Firstly, the island of Corsica was ruled for centuries by Italy, still possessing small traditional picturesque, enchanting villages, yet on the other hand, a cosmopolitan flair, spectacular beaches, and magic mountain majesties.
At the historic small ports of Saint Florent and Vecchio, fishermen supply the restaurants with their exquisite daily catch. Our first stop was Calvi, which is the small port city closest to mainland France from Nice via Ferry. Calvi has been a cosmopolitan resort when Saint Tropez was a mere fishing village.
My daughter and I decided to spend a couple of days in a lovely recommended auberge just outside of Calvi, called La Signoria. The Chef, Christian Sirurguet, created some of the loveliest Corsican fare, including Quenelle of Goat Cheese aboard freshly picked field greens. We shared a freshly caught grilled John Dory, anchovy and bread crumb encrusted, sprinkled with Herbes de Maquis, fresh thyme, fresh rosemary, fresh parsley, fresh basil, fresh mint and fresh oregano. The next dishes included a fine angel hair Italian pasta with freshly caught lobster. The finish: fresh pineapple with fresh Corsican Basil to refresh palate.
Then, my French speaking daughter and I rented a car, and off to Hotel Spa Chez Charles, in Lumio, on the north central side of the island, where we were to interview this French award winning Chef of 32 years of age.
EAR TO EAR WITH CHEF JULIÉN DIAZ …
Margaux: Where did you study the culinary arts?
Julién: In 1999 I started studying the culinary arts and received my Baccalaureate Techologique Hôtellier. Then in 2001 I furthered my studies in the Culinary Arts de la table et du service, and in 2002, my license as a sommelier.
Margaux: What is your culinary philosophy, Julién?
Julién: Firstly, Mediterranean, with local Corsican products. Let me state this in three words: “Simplicity, Precision and Originality”. One of my first professors said to me: “La Cuisine Cést Bon Beau et Chaud”. In English: If the cuisine is good, it is wonderful, when it is hot …
Margaux: Let´s talk about your dream trip professionally and why.
Julién: Japan as a chef. I am enchanted by the precision and perfection in all the Japanese do. I have travelled to Italy, Spain, England, Switzerland, Egypt, Lebanon and throughout France. I have seen uncountable techniques. I have met French and international maestro chefs and culinary experts However, if I have to choose one destination, then it is Japan, because I love the aesthetics of the Japanese kitchen.
Margaux: Julién, what are some of your favorite local Corsican and Mediterranean products that you utilize in your recipes?
Julién: At the moment, seasonal availability dictates Corsican veal, Corsican Porcu Nostral, ripe red tomatoes, local fish, for example: John Dory, Dentex, lobster and red shrimp. Citrus fruits, fresh herbs which are uncultivated from the wild thick underbrush of aromatic herbs called Herbes de Maquis, Aquerello short grain rice for risotto, gentile Gragnano pasta – designation of origin, Napoli and Fregola, Sardinian short grain rice for risotto. Furthermore, I purchase some excellent quality local red and white wines from Vintner Antoine Arena; Extra Virgin Olive Oil from my grandfather’s olive groves, La Fare Les Oliviers, where he is a member of a local cooperative in Provençe, 32 km. from Marseille; and saffron from specialist cultivator, Béatrice Bacci, in Porto Vecchio, Corsica.
Margaux: My last question for the moment is, who would you consider your key mentor?
Julién: Davide Bisetto at Hotel Casa del Mar 2 Michelin star restaurant in Porto Vecchio, where I was a sous chef, and the only French chef trained in pastas.
Margaux: Julién, thank you very much for all your time.
Some of Chef Julién’s delectable “masterpieces”
Photos: Chef Julién Papy Diaz, Margaux Cintrano, and listed businesses
Travel specialists in English on France: www.francethisway.com
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