Marc Veyrat’s apprentice Yoann Conte has a raw talent. He has proved himself working alongside his master and at various prestigious establishments and for the past year he’s been in charge of Marc Veyrat’s La Nouvelle Maison, at Veyrier-du-Lac as the custodian of a tradition.
Yoann Conte has taken up the gauntlet! At the suggestion of Marc Veyrat on 23rd May 2010, he took up the command of the ex Auberge de l’Éridan, where his mentor obtained his third Michelin star in 1995. Conte clearly sees himself as part of the filiation of this exceptional chef. "He's my spiritual father: I’d like to shape my identity according to my master’s vision," he proclaims in a free newspaper published by the restaurant. A declaration of faith to which Marc Veyrat replies: "I appreciate my apprentice, he has talent, and I want him to succeed!"
Below, a photo titled Transmission by the lake shows Conte with a triumphant smile and arms folded across his chest, whilst behind him the looming tutelary shadow can be made out. We can’t help wondering if he wouldn’t mind it moving over to give him some space! However the young chef is full of admiration: “Marc Veyrat is a visionary and not just in the kitchen,” he says. “The helicopter-delivered Rolex whirlpool tubs are still working ten years on, and the walls are heated by the lake water passing through a boiler.” The master’s name is everywhere here. Indeed the restaurant itself, renovated in an abundance of rustic luxury also bears it: La Nouvelle Maison de Marc Veyrat.
Conte wears a beret which is more than a little nod to his master’s famous black hat (whose replicas are sold for 70€ at the entrance to the restaurant) and is perhaps a symbol of his desire for independence. Indeed, a legacy of this order can rapidly become a burden. Marc Veyrat lives on the first floor and comes down to the kitchen to impart his advice. Yoann Conte has however cultivated a taste for freedom since his youth in Brittany. When he was previously a sailor he discovered at sea the importance of teamwork and the need for dependable solidarity. No wonder he talks of Marc Veyrat’s La Nouvelle Maison like the captain of a vessel: "a ship" devoted to his passion for taste.
Conte's credo is to bring high gastronomy to simple recipes. “Mountain cuisine has to remain simple: a bowl and a spoon, sitting on a rock, facing the mountain,” he says. He later discovered the mountains themselves and now obsessively explores them, drawing his inspiration from them. As a knowledgeable botanist he also loves to cultivate his herb garden: a selection of flowers, spices and mountain herbs on the lakefront. “It provides for 50% of my spice usage,” he says with a touch of pride. “I try to attain perfect simplicity - the simplicity of service, produce and taste.” At Veyrat’s La Nouvelle Maison everything is indeed organic (or almost), from the chocolate to the beeswax polish on the floor, whilst the dishes all go by very simple names. Nothing but the basics here: wooden tables and a loaf of bread for sharing. The guests are given a mountain knife and a pot of butter and it’s up to them to fend for themselves!
La Nouvelle Maison de Marc Veyrat
13, vieille route des Pensières
Tel: +33 (0)4 50 09 97 49
This article is taken from the Étoile magazine.
From Etoile magazine no. 17 (French only) :