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When Life Gives You…

Navigating market culture in Nice

Just as a bad workman blames his tools, a bad chef blames his ingredients. At the heart of every menu lies the building blocks of ingredients, and I’ve always believed there is no room to compromise when it comes to what you’re selecting for your pantry.

Moving to France was eye opening in many ways but one of the greatest benefits I’ve been able to enjoy is that of the incredible fresh produce markets I have access to. Visiting the market can be a sensory overload when you’re surrounded by the season’s riches, colours, flavours, fragrances and textures, but it’s also one of my favourite influences for that season’s menu.

I always look out for the authentic growers and producers, those who you can just tell are passionate about what they do and produce, that is almost certainly where you will find the best of whatever ingredient you need. The care with which they pack out their assortment of goodies every day reminds me of browsing through valuables in a jewelry box, and their commitment to doing it again and again every day without fail never fails to impress me.

Learning to navigate the market culture of Europe was a bit challenging at first, there’s a rhythm and etiquette to the whole process that you won’t immediately master as a newcomer, but today I relish my visits to the market. I’ve learnt that sometimes it’s rude if you don’t try to negotiate, I’ve learnt an array of market-specific slang and lingo as my French repertoire improved, and I’ve learnt that the only way to really trust your purchase is to get up close and personal with it. I mean handling it, weighing it, smelling it and giving it that oh-so-satisfying squeeze every now and then to make sure it’s at the right stage of its lifespan for what I have in mind. The experience is so tactile and hands-on, I like to think it’s second only to actually foraging for the produce myself. Similar to how artists select the finest materials for their masterpieces, winemakers rely on only the best grapes, and quality crafted beer is made from the finest hand selected hops, I take the utmost detail into consideration as I forage for fresh produce for my signature dishes.

While this market ritual might look a little odd from the outside, getting hands-on with the ingredients is one of the key ways I ensure my menu is packed full of life and flavour, a necessity for any dining experience, let alone one set in one of the food capitals of the world.

Hand-selected hops with Stella Artois

Using the finest hops, in every sip of a Stella Artois is a legacy of craftsmanship that produces the perfect beer to savour moments with the ones you love the most. Every year Stella Artois hops are hand-selected, as the team visit the hop farms and evaluate their aroma, painstakingly selecting only the best to ensure each glass of Stella is brewed with the utmost quality.