Jerome Coustillas

I have been lucky in my career from the very beginning. I have had the chance to work in various different places, sometimes prestigious, but always enriching my professional experience. And every encounter I have had in my life until now has had an influence on my cooking.

My first experience (as an “apprentice”) wasin the restaurant Aux Armes de France: washing dishes, working with ready-to-cook food, and in the second year—at the stove. From that very moment, I realized that my path to being a chef was a very difficult path. At the end of my training I received a certificate, and I became a chef, or rather, a chef’s assistant. Andfinally, I was able to receive my first paycheck.

The capital was calling me. There is constant side work, taking other people’s shifts, night restaurants (Charlot 1er in Place Clichy, Le Vieux Galion in Bois de Boulogne, and others)—a time of pennilessness and permanent austerity “Vachemaigre et petitsmeubles.”

Time to serve the Motherland. Long live the army! I was 20, in the fifth engineering regiment in the rank of sergeant. No matter how “good” the company was, the time for parting came—I was back in the civilian world.

And here’s a chance! The prestigious Fouquet’s restaurant on Champs-Élysées offered me the honor of taking me on to work as the chef’s second assistant, from which I soon became the shift supervisor for the cold kitchen.

Chance encounters and a fair wind brought me the chance of opening my first restaurant in Périgord. After a while, boredom prevailed, and the wind of change blew again, abruptly changing course.

Fate was smiling upon me; I became the foreman of the fish department in the restaurant Hotel du Cap Eden-Roc. Further, thanks to my friends, I found myself in the “holy of holies”—in the restaurant Palme d’Or in the Hotel Martinez in the post of fish foreman, and then in the butchery under Christian Willer.

Michelin stars were calling me like a siren song: a short stay in the Venice restaurant Fernard Point, and work in the restaurant Oasis on the French Riviera. One winter spent in Andorra in the Roc de Caldes restaurant. Finally, I was the sous-chef in the restaurant Terrasse in the Hotel Juana with its permanent Christian Morisset. After two exhausting years, Christian Willer (Hotel Martinze) presented me the position of chef in the Metropol hotel on a “silver platter.” Operation “dust collection.”

I was 29. There was boredom in my heart again and the capital again awaited me. Thanks to Alain Ducasse, I received the position of chef in the restaurant at the Warwick Hotel, where I received my first Michelin star.

After a stellar experience came the time to discover new lands. I wanted to go to New York, but arrived in Morocco to work for the prince. And why not—a wonderful and unique experience and unforgettable cuisine!

The phone rang and it was my Paris press attaché with an offer to work in the Moscow restaurant Le Duc. I must confess that I was not enthusiastic about this idea at first, but I have already been in Moscow for ten years now.

After five years spent in Le Duc, I opened my restaurant La Marre, and, of course, in the end of it all is the most valuable jewel in my crown—the restaurant La Colline.