s a child, in awe of his father, a clearly impressionable Arnaud mimicked the Donckele patriarch’s passions, one of which was hunting, and the other, gastronomy. The latter, although only initially in an attempt for attention, was the path Arnaud chose to follow – and now, four decades later, he holds the title of the World’s Best Chef. Indeed, gastronomy was clearly his true calling. Growing up on the banks of river Seine in Rouen, France, Donckele was born into a family of food. With his grandparents being farmers in Normandy and his father a master butcher and talented traiteur (caterer), gastronomy was in Donckele’s blood. Surrounded by cookbooks, Arnaud was immersed in culinary inspiration in his formative years. He whet his appetite reading the biographies of gourmet chefs, and by his 12 birthday, Arnaud was standing side by side with his father in the kitchen, paving his way to becoming one of the famous chefs embossed in the pages of his cherished cookbooks. And before he knew it, nature and nurture had combined, and a new gastronomic great was born. In the kitchen, the father and son fed off one another’s fervour for food, and this was the beginning of a grand gastronomic journey for Arnaud. It was behind these stoves that Donckele’s defined palate and culinary memory –
which are two essential cooking qualities needed in the gastronomic world – were formed thanks to his father, who nurtured his son’s passion and skill for the culinary arts from a young age. Arnaud looks fondly on these memories from his childhood, which hold special memories spent with his father. From long hours in the catering kitchen to tending the family’s vegetable garden together and using authentic, local produce in their cooking, Arnaud uses these memories as inspiration in his cooking at La Vague d’Or, where he too is surrounded by a treasure trove of terrific ingredients. At La Vague d’Or, overlooking the shimmering shoreline of Saint-Tropez, Donckele shepherds Provençal cuisine into the 21st century, transforming classic local dishes into modern-day masterpieces through his instinctive understanding of the land. Passionate about the region and its producers, Donckele’s cooking at its core is the finest display of the Mediterranean’s majestic offerings. “I tell the story of my discoveries and my walks through the countryside of Provence, which are the foundations of my cuisine, so that our guests experience a truly rural journey in our setting, of our customs and our local history. “Gastronomy, or art that satisfies indulgence, represents a country like the other arts. Cuisine allows us to understand the land. The land allows us to understand cuisine.” »
THIS PAGE Coastline views and surrounding grounds at hotel La Résidence de la Pinède in Saint-Tropez.