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I hail from Toulon in the south of France. Toulon is a major military port in on the Mediterranean coast situated about 20 miles from Saint Tropez – but it is not as glamorous !
Toulon natives are calm and friendly – except of course when driving, playing pétanque, supporting Rugby Club Toulon or finding their secret beach spot occupied by tourists.
Our cuisine is a blend of Provence and Northern Italy, with a dash from Brittany (north-west France) as well as Asian and Arab influences.
Food in the south of France is dictated by the climate : torrid summers followed by short and rainy winters. This allows for two bountiful seasons: spring and fall
Nestled in the foothills of the Alps, Provence has little space adapted to traditional farming which obliges us to cultivate on the slope (called restanque, a method which creates terraces by using stone walls).
Combine the summer drought and the hilly landscape, and we have a great country for vineyards, goats and sheep, but not so much for dairy products. From our ancestral olive trees, we make the best olive oil. We take pride in our herbs (aka herbs de Provence) and our forests which provide tasty mushrooms and succulent chestnuts.
The blue Mediterranean is beautiful for post cards, swimming and sailing, but as it lacks in nutrients, a lot of the fish are small and bony (but perfectly flavorful for fish soups and bouillabaisse !). Sea urchins and mussels are plentiful and are a delightful delicacy in this region. Le Central’s ofering is based on this philosophy, cook what is in season and be creative
I moved to the USA in 1974 and began cooking in Washington on K Street, then on Chicago’s North Side. Le Central was first opened in Santa Monica in 1978, before I moved to Denver in 1980, and created Le Central on 8th and Lincoln as one cook – one dishwasher
Denver was ready for Le Central – even if the two dailies did not have food critics yet – the interest was there as Francophiles and gastronomes filled the dining rooms.
Now, over thirty years later, I thank all of our clients over the years, as well as my adoptive home of Colorado, for making Le Central the Denver institution it is today.