Virginie Basselot takes over the kitchens of the Hotel

On August 1st, Virginie Basselot, representing a new generation in the French culinary landscape, took over the kitchens. The young chef has received multiple awards, and she becomes Head Chef of Le Chantecler, as well as La Rotonde brasserie, room service, and banquets.
Portrait.

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Virginie Basselot: journey of a culinary prodigy

The collaboration of Virginie Basselot and the Negresco is reminiscent of another journey: that of the emblematic owner of the property, Jeanne Augier. A free-spirited, creative, and entrepreneurial woman, who like our new chef, followed her heart’s desires in life without giving in to the pressures of “public opinion”. Augier was capable of steering her ocean liner with its pink cupola, and Basselot successfully found her place in a very competitive field, in which she has followed that “gut feeling…the flow of destiny, like the meeting with Mr. Bord, Director of the Negresco, which won me over. That’s why I took the position“.

Two parallel lives that intersect in the baroque decor, surrounded by paintings of masters, across from the Baie des Anges. “I was immediately captivated by the place. It is unique, just the way I like it, and full of history. I certainly don’t want to work in a chain“, she explains. In the history of the palace, this is the first time a woman has donned the head chef’s hat. It’s a major challenge, but Virginie Basselot’s talent will more than rise to the occasion.

Culinary talent runs in the family

 Just like Obélix, that famous gourmand of Gaul, Virginie fell into the magic cauldron as a child; her father owned a restaurant in Pont-l’Evêque.

She started her training quite young, through an apprenticeship back in her native Normandy.

At 19, she decided to head to Paris as an assistant in the kitchens of the Hôtel de Crillon. Her beginnings were certainly humble, but nothing would stop her later from reaching the height of her art.

As the years went by, she honed her special style to create a cuisine that fits her personality: “classic, direct, and simple“.

A career flavoured by excellence

In 2003, as a sous-chef working for Eric Fréchon and Franck Leroy, she contributed to the achievement of the Epicure restaurant in the Hôtel Bristol as it earned its 3rd Michelin star. “This motivated me to compete for the prestigious and exclusive title of Meilleur Ouvrier de France, which I didn’t get“. Disappointed, but never defeated, she decided in 2012 to spread her wings and became Chef at the Saint-James. Her career choice led to a crowning achievement. A year and a half after taking the position, she earned a star in the Michelin Guide. “This was a great satisfaction and an incredible reward“, she recalls. This feat pushed her into trying once again to hear the MOF in the Gastronomy class in 2015. She was decorated by Alain Ducasse, becoming only the 2nd female chef to wear the tricolour collar*.

She then left Paris for Geneva, to direct the kitchens of the Loti, the restaurant at the Hôtel la Réserve.

Le Gault-Millau recognised her undeniable talent and named her “Chef of the year, 2018″.

A constant desire to surpass herself is an excellent summary of her professional journey, but also her personal life. A passionate athlete, when she’s not at the stove, she is diving, horseback riding, skydiving and motorcycling!

*In 2007, Chef Andrée Rosier earned the title in this prestigious competition.

A taste for sharing her passion

Virginie Basselot has made rigour her key word, and sharing her passion is a genuine battle cry. With her recipes, above all, she wants to please her guests: “my passion is really cuisine and using food to achieve for every guest a true moment of happiness. I don’t want to unsettle guests, but to reassure them“, she declares.

As MOF, she accepts that she has a certain responsibility as a “guardian of culinary heritage“. A new adventure in Nice hardly intimidates this young woman with an honest directness, but who describes herself as “reserved“. The proximity of the sea inspires her. “It’s not the same sea, but I was also born by the water. I love to prepare fish. I’m immersing myself in this region to build the menu, but I  know that I’ll cook some of my signature dishes, like cod loin with lemon balm butter and bass and oyster tartare. Of course, I’ll change the name to reflect the local dialect. I’ll adapt to the region“, she jokes.

The menu will showcase fish, but vegetables too, “for a cuisine that is lighter than what I did in Switzerland, where there was a lot of cheese and Alpine-inspired dishes“. She finds “the South a magnificent region” and says she is enchanted by this experience in Nice, and is intending to bring a breath of fresh air and novel style to the Promenade des Anglais.