By Leo Gautret
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After having handled the pans of prestigious gastronomic establishments in Barcelona and Paris, Maxime Leloup returns to his roots, in Châteaubriant (Loire Atlantique).
Accomplished chef, the child of the country decided to put his knives and his apron in the city that saw him grow up to open his first establishment there with his wife Patricia. Their bistronomic restaurant baptized La Citadelle will open its doors by the end of July 2022 at the latest.on the site of the former pizzeria A la Roma, Place de la Motte. An accomplishment for the couple who have an impressive background in the luxury hotel and restaurant industry.
From the Ritz on Place Vendôme to Châteaubriant
Their love affair started in a high standing establishment, at theHotel Arts Barcelona, where Maxime starts as a clerk after the end of his studies. Originally from Lima, Peru, Patricia was doing her internship there, on the hotel side.
Since then, the couple has not left each other. After various experiences in 2006 to 2011 in the Catalan capital, they fly to Paris, where a sous-chef position awaits Maxime Leloup at the new Mandarin Oriental hotel, under the orders of the famous starred chef Thierry Marx. The Castelbriantais will complete his experience as sous-chef there in 2015.
A position he would later occupy at the reopening of the Ritz on Place Vendôme before knowing his first chef position in 2018 for the reopening of the Lutetia hotel in the district of Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
A golden trajectory traced thanks to hard work, which allows him today, at 37, to open his own restaurant.
I’ve always wanted to work in luxury establishments. I met passionate people there in all trades and worked on good products.
“A life project”
In Paris, Patricia also gained a wealth of experience in the hotel industry while giving birth to three children. A family project which prompted the couple to look towards Châteaubriant in 2020. “We wanted to get closer to our family who live in Sudan,” says Patricia, who moved to Châteaubriant in March 2020, a week before the start of the first confinement.
” This is a family project, a life project», pursues her husband. Opening their own restaurant was also one of the objectives of the two entrepreneurs, who had to revise their plan because of the Covid-19 epidemic.
While restaurants keep their doors closed, Maxime decides to set up his small business as a caterer by offering take-out and delivery dishes, weekends then weekdays for individuals and businesses.
Little by little, the Castelbriantais manages to have its dishes tasted by a large clientele and to build up a real small network.
“This activity made me open my eyes to the fact that there was a bistronomic demand in the territory. What convinced the couple to set up their business in Châteaubriant.
Something more uninhibited than gastro, with homemade cuisine, a short, seasonal menu and as many local products as possible.
Determined to open their first restaurant in the sub-prefecture, Maxime and Patricia then embark on the search for business assets to sell. “Our basic idea was to rehabilitate a bourgeois house with character,” confides the chef. The couple finally set their sights on the former pizzeria A la Roma, place de la Motte. “We immediately saw the potential. The location in the heart of town, nearby parking and the fact that customers can come on foot convinced us. »
The completely renovated restaurant
After a long process of reflection on the concept and identity of their restaurant, work began on May 22, 2022. A whole new kitchen will be installed in the establishment that will count 45 covers divided into three rooms. The couple of entrepreneurs will completely rethink the decoration. “We will have table tops in raw wood, a large bar counter and we will keep the wood-fired oven from the old pizzeria. »
In the kitchen, customers can discover the the chef’s signature dishes, which he will vary with the seasons.
A little Latin touch will be given with some sauces, some seasonings and drinks like pisco, an eau-de-vie from Peru.
Dishes to share, a very popular concept in Latin America, should also join the menu at La Citadelle, where everything will be homemade, from juices to mayonnaise. The chef also wants to offer wines selected by him directly from the producer. “We would also like to offer Sunday morning brunches and themed evenings with winegrowers for example,” says Maxime Leloup, who also wants to offer homemade ice cream.
The couple of restaurateurs announces a very accessible menu, “ below 20 euros for lunch for the main course or dessert main course and a tasting menu around 30, 35 euros”.
To run this new address, the establishment launches the search for employees. A chef de rang for the dining room and a chef de partie for the kitchen are expected.“We would like to have two people who already have experience, but above all we are looking for motivated people who have the same dynamic as us and who wish to integrate into a family establishment over the long term”, summarizes Patricia Leloup. The opening of their restaurant is hoped “at best” for next mid-July.
Contact: [email protected]
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