Gregory Vallet reinvents Burgundy classics

Tue May 4, 2010 10:56am EDT
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By Marcel Michelson

VEZELAY, France (Reuters Life!) - Gregory Vallet is a young chef running the restaurant of Hotel de La Poste et du Lion d'Or in Vezelay; a tourist attraction in the Burgundy area known for its basilica at the top of the hill that once attracted crusading kings and hordes of religious pilgrims.

Born in nearby Nevers, the former professional cyclist followed a formal kitchen training before setting out with his wife Megali to work in a string of restaurants for top chefs such as Alain Ducasse.

In 2005 they returned to Burgundy to start the restaurant of this historic hotel, rejuvenated by new owner Pascal Leclerc whose HEDS firm also runs two hotels in Auxerre.

They have ambitious plans and both the hotel and the restaurant will be refurbished during the coming winter with fewer rooms - allowing Vallet to run a larger kitchen, for serving both a gastronomic restaurant, a bistro and a room for groups under his own chosen name. (menus 22-58 euros, standard 2 person room 76-111 euros)

Q: You are going to separate the restaurant from the hotel, why?

A: A separation means both can have their own identity and hotel guests won't feel forced to eat all their meals in the restaurant while non-guests will open the doors of the restaurant sooner.

Q: What made you choose your profession?

A: It was quite natural. I have always been interested in cooking and I remember watching my mother cook with her chipped steel casserole dish while I was holding on to her legs under her skirt. Still it is not a family tradition, my father is in the metal industry and my mother worked in a travel agency.   Continued...