Philippe Etchebest, HOSTELLERIE DE PLAISANCE, SAINT-EMILION.
The name “Hostellerie de Plaisance” aptly refers to the sheer pleasure of sitting on its terrace nestling above the very centre of the medieval town of Saint-Emilion and from this exclusive vantage point, contemplating the interlocking rooftops out to the vines that stretch as far as the eye can see.
Paroles de passionnés
The magic of the place is firstly visual and then becomes very quickly linked to taste. The cuisine here is fit for kings and the chef Philippe Etchebest is rightfully proud of his two stars awarded by the “red guide”, which attest to his brilliant success. The distinction also gives recognition to his taste for team excellence, a value he inherited from his rugby years, when he not only played, but was also captain and trainer too.
Before becoming one of the town’s personalities, he took time to get to know Saint-Emilion. He moved there in 1994, when he took his first job in a restaurant. “I’d lived in Bordeaux since 1977 and had never come to Saint-Emilion. I immediately found it so beautiful, and as luck would have it, I never left.”
At the Hostellerie, which belongs to the Perse family of Château Pavie, wine is omnipresent. “I work both ways with my sommelier; I invent dishes to marry with certain wines, or I ask him to find the best match for new dishes on the menu.” When matching wine and food, Philippe Etchebest likes to experiment. “Our wines go well with truffles and all mushrooms, but I don’t limit myself. For Vinexpo, we served “scallops – oysters” with Saint-Emilion wines and everyone was delighted.”
For a while now, the chef, rugby player and boxer can also be seen on TV, but it doesn’t go to his head. For his programme on the 6th French channel, this spirited character imposed his terms: “I won’t play act and I have a profession.” Typical.