Born in Marseille, the chef of L’Hirondelle restaurant has strong roots in the region and a love of fresh seafood, which he shares in his menu at the Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo.
As a child Jean-Laurent Basile watched his mother cook vegetables from the family garden, while his father, a dockworker, would bring home fish. “My grandparents also had a chicken coop and kept pigeons and rabbits. You couldn’t have a shorter food supply chain!” recalls Basile. After starting his career at Restaurant Drouant in Paris – host of the famous Prix Goncourt – the Marseille native initially spent a season in Monaco before joining the resort permanently in 2006. Since 2018 he has been executive chef of the restaurant at the Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo, leading a team of eleven people. There, he offers a healthy menu that focuses on vegetables and fish, complemented by a few meat dishes. “The cuisine is classic and fresh, with dishes that are lower in calories than those served in traditional restaurants. For example, we reduce the amount of butter, cream and salt in our sauces by using condiments such as vegetables and herbs. We actually have a herb garden on the roof terrace of the Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo. That’s where we pick our aromatic herbs, and sometimes edible flowers, so now we don’t need to buy them,” says the chef.
Accredited with the “Restaurant Engagé” label, created by the Principality’s Department of the Environment, L’Hirondelle is also working hard to reduce the transport and delivery of goods. “We try to make a maximum of three orders a week and deal with local producers at the Marché d’Intérêt National (national wholesale market), which enables us to work with products such as courgette flowers and chard, which are iconic ingredients in the cuisine of Nice and Monaco. In spring there are also local petits pois and Vaucluse asparagus, and even Albenga artichokes from the Italian border,” continues the passionate chef, who whenever possible uses seasonal ingredients as they are, without too much processing. The most popular dish at L’Hirondelle is the Poke Bowl with organic quinoa and vegetables, a vegetarian dish. Diners can also add organic Icelandic salmon, which is sustainably caught; the restaurant is also accredited with the Mr.Goodfish certification. “I love all the rockfish and the soups, which are very good for you and low in calories because it’s a broth,” adds the Mediterranean chef, whose wife is Sicilian. Basile also cooks with whatever is available and in season, from fish to citrus fruits from Menton and Mediterranean red mullet. The result is cuisine that is both light and delicious.
By Eve Chatelet