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PHOTO BY SHAWNA DIXSON

Michéle and Norbert in front of their restaurant, April 11, 2019

The couple’s restaurant eventually became well-known for its elite cuisine, receiving various awards in “Many restaurants did not cook magazines such as Sunset. ‘fresh,’ ” Michéle said. When asked about Norbert’s role They found the land C’est Sí Bon in the success of their restaurant, is on now, had the building built Michéle attributes it largely to him and opened on Jan. 1, 1981. and his vibrant personality. “We started to do salmon in the “Norbert is funny,” Michéle said. parchment with the veggies under “He has to be here because people … and a little wine. That was our ask for him.” first dish with fish,” Michéle said. Norbert, however, takes a light“People really enjoyed it.” hearted view on the matter. The couple had originally con“My job is to harass people,” sidered opening a restaurant in he said. “I take the orders and I Malibu, California. have to do that because I’m the only They said the hardest part was one with a funny French accent. getting the word out. “I’m part of the furniture.” Some people were very open In addition to his maître d’ and to trying their new restaurant, server roles, Norbert selects the but others just didn’t know what wines. According to him, price has to expect. little to do with quality. “The men, for example, they “Wine, you have to taste,” he said. don’t know what French food “Don’t show me the label.” is — escargot … ,” Michéle said, People recognize how hard they and chuckled. “Once we had them, though, they would come all work and like that they’re involved as owners. the time.”

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Norbert also did much of the renovation work on their property. When they originally built the restaurant, it did not have the balcony seating, sunroom or side room for parties. Michéle said Norbert came up with all the modifications himself. When asked what they do in their free time, the couple chuckled. “[We] just relax,” Michéle said. Norbert enjoys lounging at home and taking care of the cats he rescues. “We have a nice home, just a 1- or 2-minute walk from here,” Norbert said. They don’t go on vacations or get out much, but people come to them. That, and being together, are what makes them happy. When asked what brings them joy, Michéle had to translate to French for Norbert, who has lost most of his hearing and has an easier time understanding French these days. Without hesitation, Norbert responded with “connecting with people.” “For me, that’s the fun part.” Norbert said. Looking back, the couple said they didn’t have any specific plans when they left France, but they’re happy with where they are now. “It just happened as we went along, “Michéle said. “We came here [the Peninsula] by mistake,” Norbert said. “But at the end, it was a good mistake.” They both said they couldn’t have done it alone. “Not me,” Michéle said. “He’s the dreamer, and I help to make it happen.” As for their plans for the future, Norbert and Michéle said they are perfectly content to keep running their restaurant and have no plans to retire any time soon. Norbert just turned 84 and Michéle is only 5 years younger. “As we grow older, then we know what we [will] have to do eventually, but no. She can walk and she can do things,” Norbert said. “That’s fine.” Lifelong Journey • JULY 2019

Profile for Sound Publishing

Special Sections - Lifelong Journey July 2019  

i20190716102812746.pdf

Special Sections - Lifelong Journey July 2019  

i20190716102812746.pdf