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« “We are inspired by the area that surrounds us and the emotions that they procure – the sea, the land, the pines – everything that encapsulates the charm of the Mediterranean.” Donckele uses the unique location of his kitchen, sandwiched between land and sea in the fertile French Riviera, to source the finest of produce from local, smallscale purveyors that showcase the secrets of Provence’s paradisiacal flavour profile. “I have an incredible relationship with locals who take care of our vegetables and raise our lamb, rabbit and fowl. They share my desire to create exceptional ingredients. Without their love and hard work we would be nothing, because as cooks, we are nothing when compared with Mother Nature.” In honour of the fruits of nature’s labour, Arnaud’s cuisine celebrates the luscious Mediterranean landscape where sun-drenched vegetables, aromatic herbs and fresh seafood are the order of the day. Extracting the true essence from each ingredient, Donckele sculpts dishes with subtle flavours, refined cooking techniques and plating that pay tribute to the sun – these are the fundamentals of his food. As for the chefs who were fundamental in the formation of Donckele’s formidable cooking style, Michel Guérard, Alain Ducasse and Jean-Louis Nomicos are on the list. Training in
the renowned kitchen of Le Louis XV in Monaco and Plaza Athénée and Restaurant Lasserre in Paris, Arnaud developed a masterful set of culinary skills alongside his fearless creative imagination. It was these three chefs who, according to Arnaud, “guided me on my knowledge of ingredients, poetry and discipline. They were deeply involved in my education, and I am a fusion of their three schools.” Michel Guérard, the embodiment of French cuisine, according to Donckele, oozes elegance and refinement. His delicate hand and rare sensitivity are the characteristics of the culinary genius that Arnaud truly admires, and replicating these characteristics in his own cooking is important to the chef, as well as being humble and dedicated to the craft. Alain Ducasse, on the other hand, taught Donckele the importance of exceptional produce. Without superlative ingredients one cannot cook superlative dishes, and this is one of the defining pillars of Donckele’s cuisine at La Vague d’Or. Furthermore, Ducasse reinforced how imperative it is for a chef to consistently work on their craft. The ageold saying of practice makes perfect is also true for chefs, who, according to Ducasse, need to build their skillset, developing techniques and honing skills over and over again. For Donckele, Ducasse is his definition of class, his point of culinary reference, his protector and the one from whom he seeks advice. »