He is one of the rising stars of Vaucluse, a chef in total harmony with his hotel-restaurant itself located in one of the most famous wine appellations in France. Hugo Loridan-Fombonne runs the kitchens of the Hostellerie des Fines Roches, a local celebrity on which all eyes converge when driving on the departmental road, with its crenellated towers and its somewhat kitsch late 19th century walls. On the eve of a season that everyone agrees predicts will be excellent, Hugo is reaffirming its values.
First of all, local anchoring, and in all its forms: – We are very attached to forging links with the locals. My joy is to welcome the winegrowers of Châteauneuf who come by the dozens each month. They are people of the land and I have a lot to learn from them” says the 29-year-old cook. This anchoring is told à la carte, with asparagus from Ile de l’Oiselet in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, with poultry from Cyril Gabellon in Orange, with eggs from Valérie Sevenier from Mas Ribelly in Entraigues on the Sorgue. A professional anchor then. “One day, people said that I was ‘the child of Les Fines Roches’. I like this idea because this is where I build myself, where I manage to define what I want and where I’m going. Now I know what my cooking has to say”.
“For the 2015 competition for young master restaurateurs, I served a crispy turbot, reminiscent of a bread-crusted sole that I saw Yannick Alleno make. It is now a dish that follows me »
If he admits having “progressed through challenges”, Hugo Loridan-Fombonne also admits to giving his all by organizing, for example, monthly food and wine pairing dinners to maintain links with the village winegrowers. He offers a bistro menu at lunch and a gastronomic menu in the evening and puts pressure on himself: – I would like the clientele to be there this summer, I hope that my cooking will please and that everyone will leave with a good image of Fines Roches”. In September, the chef will celebrate his 10th birthday at Les Fines Roches and take stock of his summer.
At Les Fines Roches, an impetuous cuisine
In fine weather, the tables are set outside with a view of the vines. Coated in white in homage to the moon that illuminates the dinner. Everyone is on a war footing, sommelier Julien Massip, who arrived in December 2021, pastry chef Frédéric Vandeven and Fatti who smiles and struggles to ensure that the service is happy. There are some very nice things on the menu of the inspiration menu: a cromesquis of chicken and grape must condiment, a shortbread parmesan and fresh goat cheese from Ventoux and black curry. There is this very technical appetizer, a salty meringue with Espelette pepper and poppy seed-lemon cucumber gel and gravlax trout, which causes the mouth to bottle up with so much it has to say. We let ourselves be moved by this risotto with Camargue black rice-low temperature monkfish and gardianne sauce, a tribute to the grandmother, and we are seduced by this exceptional panko-cream breaded veal sweetbreads in yellow wine morels and wild asparagus. The chef succumbs to fashion with white asparagus from the Camargue, pickled vegetables and mustard seeds-Ardèche trout egg, a delightful jumble of colors and flavors, the acidity nevertheless ending up imposing itself (photo). In this joyful opulence and cacophony, one wine, the Barville 2019 estate in red from the Brotte family, stands out, as does the artisanal liqueur of verbena or this red Beaumes-de-Venise muscat from Alain Ignace to accompany the dessert: peas and strawberries from Carpentras-white chocolate. A table sometimes fiery, terribly endearing, capable of stunning lyrical flights and promised a bright future.
Hostellerie du Château des Fines Roches, 1901, route de Sorgues, 84230 Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Info on 04 90 83 70 23. Lunch menus: €28 and €34. Dinner: 52, 62, 75 and 85 €.