Located at the point of La Vigie, the Monte-Carlo Beach Hotel is revolutionising luxury hospitality and gastronomy while protecting biodiversity. Its latest recruit, chef Manon Fleury, a “zero waste” pioneer, is further proof.
The pine forest is a peaceful haven for swifts, gray herons and yelkouan shearwaters, an endangered species of seabird: in fact, the point of La Vigie is classed as a refuge by the French League for the Protection of Birds. Glamorous and modern, the Monte-Carlo Beach Hotel has prided itself on being green for years. The iconic 1930s establishment, updated by architect and designer India Mahdavi, has been developing its corporate social responsibility programme since 2007, and in 2014 earned the Green Globe certification, in recognition of its commitment to sustainable development. The hotel’s beach is further proof of this commitment. After gradually disappearing over the years, in April it was restored to its 1930s appearance. Following an environmental impact study, the beach was covered with small pebbles from the Durance river, and is protected by an underwater reef dike that preserves the Posidonia meadows. The dike is home to a rich biodiversity, and endemic species use the rocks to effectively create a “nursery” for fish.
The art of wasting nothing
The Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer has also just recruited a key chef for the Monte-Carlo Beach Hotel’s Michelin-starred organic restaurant, Elsa. Manon Fleury is a “zero waste” pioneer and committed to local cuisine. Since her arrival in late May, she has offered a menu that promotes organic gastronomy and wild-caught fish. Her “zero waste” goal hinges on the art of wasting nothing, and transforming peels, pods and vegetable tops into essential elements of a high quality dish. “Being a chef means, above all, taking part in an ecosystem. I have boundless respect for living matter and a deep ecological conscience, which are at the heart of my “zero waste” approach in the kitchen, explains Fleury, a former fencing champion who is now head of the first Michelin-starred 100% organic and wild-caught fish restaurant, which has been Ecocert certified since 2013.
Focusing on organic, local produce, Elsa gets most of its supplies from four gardens located less than 30km away. The chefs do not buy products that are rare or endangered species. Exotic products are organic and fair trade. The chef, who is inspired by the “plant based” character of the Louis XV – Alain Ducasse restaurant in the Hotel de Paris, aims to “take Elsa even further in its commitment to reducing waste and being environmentally friendly. Diversity in the kitchen is also a very important issue to me. I was able to build a team with three women at Elsa, with the goal of putting women in positions of responsibility.”
The young chef, who trained at several major establishments before becoming head chef of Le Mermoz in Paris, cooks with Mediterranean products such as fig leaves and prepares signature dishes such as San Remo prawns, raspberries and nasturtium flower gelée, pie of vegetables and herbs from the Agerbol garden, and marinated turnip, cream of green olives and cherries.
Recycled cigarett butts
In addition to its iconic organic restaurant, the Monte-Carlo Beach Hotel has stepped up its green initiatives, which include the use of electric vehicles, eco-designed products sourced locally to reduce travel and waste, selective sorting of waste into 10 categories (glass, paper, cardboard, MREs, light bulbs, WEEE, edible oils, organic waste, batteries and clothes hangers), and solar-powered lighting in the car parks. A new project is also underway: the hotel collects its guests’cigarette butts for an organisation in Marseille that transforms them into office accessories. The next step: the management is looking into recycling used soaps.
by Milena Radoman